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A FEMINIST PUBLICATI
Editorial Collective: Pennetope Goodfriend,
Kathy Grove, Shirley Irons, Ann Lithe . Robin
Michals, Kristin Reed, Ellen Rumm, Linda Peer,
Design: Robin Michals, Kristin Reed
Typesetting: Kathie Brown
Production: Robin Michals, Kristin Reed, Tasha
Depp, Keith Christensen, Morgan Gwenwald,
Special thanks to Sue Heinemann, Carrie
Moyer, Claire Piagel, Chris Heindel, and especi-
ally to Kathie Brown
Mother Collective: Emma Amos, Kathie
Brown, Josely Carvalho, Lenora Champagne,
Chris Costan, Day Gleeson, Michele Godwin,
Pennetope Goodfriend, Kathy Grove, Kay Kenny,
Avis Lang, Lucy R. Lippard, Sabra Moore, Car-
rie Moyer, Linda Peer, Liza Suzuki, Holly Zox
Staff: Pennetope Goodfriend, Kay Kenny
Associate Collective Members: Ida Apple-
broog. Patsy Beckett, Lyn Blumenthal, Joan
Braderman, Cynthia Can; Mary Beth Edelson,
Sandra De Sando, Su Friedrich, Janet Froelich,
Vanalyne Green, Harmony Hammond, Sue
Heinemann, Elizabeth Hess, Lyn Hughes, Joyce
Kozloff, Ar/ene Ladden, Ellen Lanyon, Nicky
Lindeman, Melissa Meyer, Marty Pottenger, Car-
rie Rickey, Elizabeth Sacre, Miriam Schapiro,
Amy Sillman, Joan Snyder, Elke Solomon, Pat
Steir, May Stevens, Michelle Stuart, Susana Torre,
Cecilia Vicuna, Elizabeth Weatherford, Sally Web-
ster, Nina Yankowitz
Advisors: Vivian E. Browne, Ada Ciniglio,
Elaine Lustig Cohen, Eleanor Munro, Linda
Nochlin, Barbara Quinn, Jane Rubin, Ann
Sperry, Rose Weil
Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art &-
Politics is published two times a year by Heresies Col-
lective, Inc. , clo Foundation for the Community of Art-
ists. 280 Broadway, Suite 412. New York, NY 10007.
Subscription rates: $15 for four issues, $24 for institu-
tions. Outside the U.S. and Canada add $2 postage.
Single copies: $5 each. Address all correspondence to:
Heresies, PO Box 766, Canal Street Station, New York,
Heresies. ISSN 0146-3411. Vol. 5. No. 4. Issue 20.
©19S5. Heresies Collective, Inc. All rights reserved.
This publication is made possible, in part, with public
funds from die New York State Council on the Arts and
the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funds
provided by New York Community Trust and Coordi-
nating Council of Literary Magazines. Heresies is in-
dexed by the Alternative Press Centre. Box 7229.
Baltimore. MD 21218. It is a member ofCOSMEP (Com-
mittee of Small Magazine Editors and Publishers), Box
lOi. San Francisco, CA 94101.
Heresies is an idea-oriented journal devoted to the examination
of art and politics from a feminist perspective. We believe that what
is commonly called art can have a political impact and that in the
making of art and all cultural artifacts our identities as women play
a distinct role. We hope that Heresies will stimulate dialogue around
radical political and aesthetic theory, as well as generate new
creative energies among women. It will be a place where diversity
can be articulated. We are committed to broadening the definition
and function of art.
Heresies is published by a collective of feminists, some of whom
are also socialists, marxists, lesbian feminists, or anarchists; our
fields include painting, sculpture, writing, anthropology, literature,
performance, art history, architecture, filmmaking, photography,
and video. While the themes of the individual issues will be deter-
mined by the collective, each issue will have a different editorial
staff, composed of women who want to work on that issue as well
as members of the collective. Heresies provides experience for
women who work editorially, in design, and in production. An open
evaluation meeting will beheld after the appearance of each issue.
Heresies will try to be accountable to and in touch with the inter-
national feminist community.
As women, we are aware that historically the connections be-
tween our lives, our arts, and our ideas have been suppressed.
Once these connections are clarified, they can function as a means
to dissolve the alienation between artist and audience, and to
understand the relationship between art and politics, work and
workers. As a step toward the demystification of art, we reject the
standard relationship of criticism to art within the present system,
which has often become the relationship of advertiser to product.
We will not advertise a new set of genius-products just because they
are made by women. We are not committed to any particular style
or aesthetic, nor to the competitive mentality that pervades the art
world. Our view of feminism is one of process and change, and we
feel that in the process of this dialogue we can foster a change in
the meaning of art.
The Heresies Satire Collective wishes to apologize to the author
of the letter on page 19 of Issue 19 for having listed her name
accidentally in our Table of Contents. We thus compromised the
intended anonymity and the collective nature of the piece ...
which we think is a strong piece of work.
Stars and Starlets at Kamakaze
Heresies would like to thank all the artists who donated their work
for our benefit night at Kamakaze. Both visual and performance
artists contributed to the evening. Special thanks go to Ethyl
Eichelberger who M.C.'d the performances and Redy Story, Laurie
Carlos, Constance de Jong, Karen Finley, and Holly Hughes who
performed. Vanalyne Green has our appreciation for organizing
We especially thank Lauren Ewing, Jenny Holzer, Faith Ringgold,
Nancy Spero, and Rhonda Zwillinger for donating artwork to our
raffle. Because of them, it was a big success and helped Heresies
go on to produce this issue.
On the back cover:
^photograph by Ruth Putter, Counter-demonstrator's
^reaction to a peace rally held at Sampson State Park
: near Seneca Army Depot, Seneca, New York, on Oc'lo-
Help! If you are a committed feminist with skills in magazine pro-
duction — copy editing, word processing, typesetting, mechanicals
— or if you are just a good speller and willing to read proofs,
Heresies needs you. Contact our office at 212—227-2108. Page
production on Issue 21 begins in the fall.
EDITORIAL STATEMENT/ 2
ONE SUMMER AT SENECA /6
FIRST STRIKE FOR PEACE/ 12
THE NEW YORK EIGHT/ 19
DOAN KET DANCE COLLECTIVE / 24
LILLIAN WALD: AT HOME ON HENRY STREET/ 31
RELIABLE SOURCES / 39
SISTERS IN SUPPORT OF SISTERS IN SOUTH AFRICA
ART AGAINST APARTHEID / 45
BELFAST CONTROL ZONE /51
JUNE BEER'S STORY / 54
OPTIMISM/PESSIMISM CONSTRUCTING A LIFE / 59
PIECE BY PEACE/ 60
WOMEN'S PEACE CAMPS AND RESOURCES /64
A POLITIC TO PUBLIC ART / 66
IN THE MIDST OF PLENTY/ 72
INTELLECTUALS AND POLITICAL ACTION /78
ANONYMOUS WITNESS / 84
THE SHADOW PROJECT / 86
Train- ed Poets
/42 Blanche Wiesen Cook
Bonnie Donahue/Werner Wada
an interview with Kathy Goldman
Cam Gendel Ryan
Donna Grund Slepack
QUESTION 6 /58
What led to your activism?
How have your political ideas evolved?
What books/traditions/role models influenced you?
Has your attitude toward non-activists changed?
When have you been most effective? What is your criteria for success?
What are your greatest pleasures in activism?
What frustrations have you experienced?
What have racial, sexual, class, religious, or age differences meant?
What do you find ironic in everday contradictions of activism?
OUR FATHER WHO DROWNS THE BIRDS /ll
SKULLS IN NEAT ROWS /65
GUATEMALA/ RAVENNA /71
GROUND ZERO /90
DIRECT ACTION AGAINST SEXISM IN ADS /22
FEMINIST TAX RESISTANCE /41
INTERVIEWS: STEPHANIE WOOLHANDLER AND FLO KENNEDY / 70
Margaret K. Hicks, CENTRAL AMERICA, WILL THE REAL CULPRIT PLEASE STAND UP?
number one of two, b/w photos, 1 0" x 8" each
The artist has been head of the Art Department of Navarro College, Corsicana, Texas, since 1966.
parallels that of its subject, women's
activism, as the thread of its original
idea kept encircling more and larger
issues, slowly turning into a tangled
knot. And we members of the collective,
like all activists, swung from enthus-
iasm to perseverance to frustration
The original premise sounded simple
— the issue was to be the story of women
working in the peace movement. The
difficulties arose as soon as we tried to
define the term 'peace movement.' The
members of the collective firmly believe
that one of the overwhelming contribu-
tions of feminism is its insistence on see-
ing the connections — that the world view
which determines the United States' in-
volvement in Central America also de-
fines an attitude toward race and gender".
Feminism wants it acknowledged that
our treatment of the homeless has a great
deal to do with our abuse of the earth
and our attitude toward class.
So, still with great enthusiasm, we so-
licited articles on everything that con-
nected, in the broadest sense, with the
peace movement. We then ran headlong
into the problem encountered by most
organizers of demonstrations, and many
painters and writers and, indeed, all re-
sponsible people. If you try to tackle
everything, do you end up with nothing?
But if you focus and make things clear
and straightforward, have you left out
the connections which were your raison
d'etrein the first place?
That knot was loosened by following
the line that most strongly affected us. In
reading the work submitted, we found
that we were impressed by the lives of
women who became activists, by the
choices they made and their reasons for
doing so. At the risk of sounding senti-
mental, we were touched that, in a time
of emphasis on career and investment
opportunities, these women had made a
decision that a political and social com-
mitment were more important.
We wanted to know more about these
people and the work they do. In order to
reach as many as possible, including
those without the time to write an entire
article, we developed a questionnaire
asking individuals how they became ac-
tivists and how that decision affected their
personal, moral and political lives.
The writing of those questions required
hours of discussions as we tried to put
language to beliefs and experiences that
had never before needed such explicit
definition. At the beginning we found
ourselves concentrating on the negative
aspects of political involvement, forming
questions that reflected our own frustra-
tions with commitments, time, guilt and
belief. We found ourselves inadvertently
saying that we knew the good parts,
what we needed was help in getting
through the bad. We changed that em-
phasis, realizing the positive aspects need
reinforcing, especially in the current po-
Political differences surfaced when
words and phrases at times seemed to
assume a specific ideology. We tried hard
to be aware of how the stating of a
question can manipulate the answer, and
to develop ways of asking things that
were open to varied social or political
beliefs. Yet we also wanted enough struc-
ture so that a respondent had a base on
which to build her replies, a starting point
for her thinking.
It seemed that in every phrase of this
project the same conundrum arose —
how to include the broadest range of
issues and not lose the primary focus.
Some of the major concerns of activists
today were lost. On the other hand, we
Margaret K. Hicks, CENTRAL AMERICA, WILL THE REAL CULPRIT PLEASE STAND UP?
number two of two, b/w photos, 1 0" x 8" each
gathered unexpected resources — a
woman from Northern Ireland telling a
personal story of horrible violence, a
report from the women who left their
homes to set up a new kind of commu-
nity at Greenham Common, an interview
with a woman in jail because of her
In the end, the tangled skein remains
just that — we followed one line through
but no great unraveling of the knot took
place. Here are the voices of many
women, saying who they are and what
issues deeply concern them and what
they are doing to change their lives and
the lives of others. This magazine is a
celebration of these women and the work
they have done. D
V/as there an external
influence, an issue or catalyst?
Or was there an internal
I fell in love with a woman at age 18 — the contradictions of my
religious tradition made me angry. The catalyst was this first rela-
tionship. In it I recognized the profound sickness of our culture,
especially racism and homophobia. Later I became aware of sex-
ism. I began to realize that I was as capable as anyone else of being
a leader and of bringing about change.
i?ev. Karen Ziegler
Our son Michael was killed by a drunk driver and buried on his
17th birthday. MADD had just been formed nationally and the
Long Island chapter was formed months prior to Michael's death.
Deborah Davidson, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving)
It's the personal experiences that keep me going: Cleaning a
migrant camp in ■Oregon as a high school student and finding
the school records of a child who attended 6 different schools in
one year. Sharing homesickness with a Portuguese woman clean-
ing the hall where I lived in Paris. A Lebanese student in Paris
telling me I'd never understand his country. My embarassment
when I asked a Mexican woman at the cannery where I worked
what a phrase in my Spanish poetry book meant and she replied
that she couldn't read. The confusion of a woman whose house I
cleaned when she realized I had more education than she. Meet-
ing a peasant in the hinterlands of Ecuador who went from naive
responses to looking through my binoculars to probing political
questions. Meeting a police officer in Bolivia who was soon to go
to Washington DC for six weeks of "special training." The pro-
fuse apologies of people who mistakenly identified my infant
son as a girl if he wore pink. My mother telling me about being
locked up in the chicken house with her sisters while their par-
ents picked cotton as sharecroppers until she was 5 and old
enough to work in the fields. A tour of San Jose's County Jail...
Realizing at an early age that the way things worked (the sys-
tem) was cruel to me and those I loved. The "external" influence,
issue and catalyst were racism and being bom Black in 1946. 1
grew up during the Civil Rights Movement which dramatically
transformed Black reality and was undoubtedly most influential
in shaping my commitment to change.
student days. In 1970 1 moved to LA. to be a "faculty wife." I had a
one-year-old son. I was painting in the bedroom. I had no commu-
nity and felt completely isolated. Another faculty wife asked me to
join a consciousness-raising group, and then everything changed.
Q U E
It almost seems that the question should be not what leads to
activism but what stops it? Why doesn't meeting with injustice
cause people to object? How can we not say no? From the be-
ginning, from the first time? There was a recent book on what
kind of people helped European Jews hide from the Nazis; and
how they differed from those who thought "but I will put my own
life and my family's in danger if I do this" The book's authors
found that they were not necesarily ideological: They were stub-
bom, outspoken people, people who couldn't take being pushed
around, old women who said don't you dare, peasants who were
implacable, just not bendable.
I was raised by a single working mother and feminism was a given.
One of the other factors is that it was always expected of me to be
informed obout politics as these things were always discussed at
dinner. At some point I moved a bit too far to the left and the discus-
sions had to be dropped, but the point is I was raised to assume that
politics were my business. Robin Michals
Being bom a Jew was a powerful genetic and social influence.
The holocaust and the trial and subsequent execution of Julius
and Ethel Rosenberg exposed the dangers of complacency and
blind faith in government. Then the McCarthy Era and my forced
initiation into the Silent Generation sealed my belief in the im-
portance of activism. Arlene Carmen
My parents, in spite of the Red scare, were unabashed in their
support for civil rights and civil liberties. When I was ten I wanted
to vote for Kennedy and told my best friend I was a Communist
(she didn't talk to me for weeks after). By the time I was 12,
Kennedy was threatening nuclear war because of missiles in
Cuba— so much for Democrats. Claudia Hommel
The external influence in fact is the aggressive American for-
eign policy, especially the frightening thoughts of American lead-
ers, such as Reagan, who recently suggested that an eventual
limited nuclear war in Europe doesn't need to be out of the ques-
tion and can be won.
Vrouwen Tegen Kernwapens, The Netherlands
I'd always felt discrimination because of my gender... my father
wanted a son... high school authorities would not allow me to par-
ticipate in sports even though I could outrun everyone in the county.
And then when I was 25, living in San Franciso, the vice cops
framed me for prostitution. I fought back, winning an appeal two
Margo St. James, Coyote, Prostitute's Rights
process or poin t of recognition ?
Was there a combination of both?
For those of us bom in underdeveloped countries, the idea of
being free is bom with the individual. In my case as a woman, as
an adolescent, in the time of the Somoza dictatorship, to be a woman
meant to be nothing. It was in those fires that the FSLN together
with the Revolutionary Student Front organized activities in which
the participation of all the population, including women, was taken
into consideration. In that time, even though I was only 14 years
old, I took as my own the activities of the FER.
Josefa Murillo (Josefina Ellizander)
I trace my activities as a "political" singer to a tradition my mother
learned in her childhood in pre-WWI Poland, when any politically
active person might very well have been a culturally active person
also. Before my mother emigrated to America to work in the dress
factories of NY, that tradition of politics with culture had already
crossed the ocean and had met its American counterpart in the
songs, parodies and street theatre of the Wobblies and the Ameri-
can trade union movement in general. It was into that fine interna-
tional stew that I was bom.
In the '30's and '40's people who worked for social justice were
often called soap-boxers, flag- wavers, do-gooders, mud-slingers,
damn Bolsheviks, or at the least rabble rousers, all of which sound
-less respectable than "activists" but more specific — and somehow
more active. A young and impassioned person doing what seemed
: appropriate to do under provocative circumstances tended to ask,
"Well, what do they mean, rabble rouser? What is rabble, anyway?"
In the end she might have become even clearer about what she
was doing and with whom she identified. Ronnie Gilbert
I became "hard-cased" for the (feminist) cause as I realized that our
fair agenda was not only not being acted upon in a positive way, but
that what we were doing and talking about was being twisted and
being turned against us. Also, the personal experience in 1972 of
haying my daughter legally kidnapped from me made me realize
how far the patriarchy was willing to go. The experience made me
feel that everything had been taken from me and that I had nothing
else to lose — the most dangerous kind of human being.
Mary Beth Edelson
;-In our society, activists are frequently presented as persons with
personal "gripes" or deficiencies which lead them to lash out at
: the world. So normal, healthy self-examination and questioning
s can easily be refashioned into a weapon against the newly aware,
•; socially-critical self. Without the support of a few others, the initial
^positive response to injustice (and the will to change it) becomes
fa personal sore-point, a distortion. Holly Metz
My mother was the external agent. The internal process was one
of transforming her battle into mine. The feminist movement was
the other external source; it saved me. Instead of my mother's
eccentric, desexualized intellectual, I could be a thoroughly nor-
mal woman in struggle. Pat Mann
My conscience said "Don't just sit there and let others do."
I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and lived there until I was
28. During this time the government changed alternately from ci-
vilian to military, and the politics swung from left to right or the
reverse many times. I have the fortune, (or the misfortune), there-
fore, of belonging to a generation who perceived oppression not
as a fixed and immutable condition, but as an extreme which could
be transformed. I do not see one's interior world as separated
from one's social existence, for the two nourish each other to form
a dialectical unity. What led me to activism in Argentina was the
recognition that you can't become human under conditions of op-
pression and that the oppression could not be transformed except
collectively. Silvia Malagrino
From the day I was bom, my personal life has been inextricably
connected with politics. I was bom in Tule Lake Japanese Intern-
ment Camp in California where my mother and father had gone to
work after my father declared himself to be a conscientious objec-
tor. He worked as an organizer in the camp; my mother taught. We
lived there until I was close to two. After that, until the late 1950's,
my father organized farmers throughout the United States, from
California to Vermont. I would be hauled along from one farmhouse
to another for meetings. I would be put to bed in the parlor off the
kitchen and lulled to sleep by discussions of farm issues.
Almost all the memories of my formative years are set against
this background of politics. Because of this I had almost no con-
cept of being political or not political. In fact, in the sixties and
seventies when everyone was having intense talks about being
political, I felt as though I wasn't. I suppose because it was so
deeply ingrained, I couldn't separate enough to see it. It wasn't
until much later, quite recently in fact, when my friends were re-
treating from politics that I saw that my commitment was still there
and that indeed I'd always been a poltical person. Even in the
earliest childhood pieces, politics was present. In terms of being
active, in my mind I guess being a person and being politically
active are one and the same thing. In a way there was almost no
choice involved for me, except to figure out where to put my energy.
I didn't know it was called activism... when I made art of it, my
mentors said it wasn't art. Martha Wilson
by Judith McDaniel
The sign read PINKO DYKES GO HOME. I slowed my car to look at it that last Sunday in July. It was hot and sunny,
hot enough to feel like it had to rain soon, and the humidity was gathering thunder clouds on the western horizon
over the lake. The men and women standing by the sign looked angry and defiant and hot and a little embar-
rassed. The men wore t-shirts or shortsleeved sportshirts and jeans or khakis. The women had on blouses and
bermuda shorts or slacks. They held flags, small ones. They didn't hold them easily. It's hard to cross yo
arms defiantly over your chest and still hold a flag, but some of them managed.
A year of planning had gone into the demonstration against the installation of Cruise and Pershing
missiles at Seneca's army depot. There were months of out-reach to the local upstate New York
community about issues of disarmament and economics, about conversion from military employ-
ment to non^miiitary. There had been a recenf.hfstory of women-only peace actions in countries all
over the world. Still the sign read PINKO DYKES GO HOME."
i wondered what would happen if I stopped the car and got out and went over and introduced
myself as a Pinko Dyke, But I didn't do it. For ten years now I have lived in rural northeastern
farming communities. For two years I was an assistant Girl Scout leader in a village the size ^
of this one. Our troup went on hay rider, and climb*.! mountains and sold cook les with the
help of mothers and fathers who dressed and looked and felt much like these citizens. But
in my own community, 1 am still an outsider. Although I have built my home there, I have
never been at home there, never been open about my sexuality. I have depended on
the almost inevitable separation of village and city for my anonymity, speaking as a
lesbian in an event in the city, keeping that identity discreetly pocketed at Girl Scout
events in my village. So when I looked at the Pinko Dyke sign, I felt like 1 was seeing my
friends and neighbors standing behind it. When I turned my head and looked across
the road at the base, 1 was looking at my other home, the home of my childhood.
I was a war baby, born at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. h\y father- was
away for most of my infancy. Meeting him when he returned in 1 946 is one of my
earliest memories, a memory 1 share with many of my generation. For several years
we lived in Indianapolis where my father worked as a meatpacker for Armour and
Company. Why he went back into the military in 1950 was never discussed in my
family, but I assume he was attracted by the class mobility the military seemed to
provide. During wartime, he had been promoted from private to major.. When he
re-enlisted, he was sent to Officer's Training School in Alexandria, Louisiana. 1 remem-
ber because I was seven and learned to swim with wafer wings in the pool at the
Officer's Club there. I swam in the ocean for the first time off Cape Cod when we were
stationed at Otis Air Force Base. A tomboy girlfriend taught me to spit accurately at a
target twelve feet away in the family barracks at the Armed Forces Staff College in
Norfolk, Virginia, and another taught me to play "splits" with a jack knife on the
manicured lawns of Langiey Air Force Base. 1 learned to ride a horse western style on
the flight line of Tinker Air Base in Oklahoma, graduated from Gen. H.H. Arnold High
School in Wiesbaden, Germany, and went home from college for my first Christmas to
Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, New York, only a few miles from the Seneca Army
Depot 1 was driving by. So the Army Depot looked like home to me and the people
who stood on' the other side of the fence looked like friends and family. How did I
come so far from being a part of that community, I have wondered. What were the
assumptions of that life and how must they have changed if I was standing here and
those people were standing over there?
I was raised in an orderly military life, a life that felt safe and protected. Today that
sounds like a contradiction. Then, the military meant safety to me, and predictability. I
may have lived on some of the most active — in fact, vulnerable — Strategic Air Com-
mand bases in this country. But to me, a scramble was something all dads did in the
course of a work day. It was one of the rituals, like the ritual I observed every day of
my childhood at 5 p.m. when the loud speakers sounded, taps and the flag was low-,
ered. No matter what base I was on, whal country I was in, cars stopped, men, women
and children stopped walking and faced west. Men in uniform saluted. The rest of us
stood self-consciously with our hands on our hearts. It was a pause In the day ob-
Kristin Reed, LA MUERTE SE CONFUNDlRA^
The artist is a painter, muralist, photographs
ill I %I I
iPf pp P ISP Sll
||&i>SferYed : by every member of fhecomrriunity.iln mY^niemory, it Ayas.always!isunset. '■.-'■:,■
lifflfiiii, ■':'■ That life was contained. We lived within v^IIsj: within fences -and gates: a
;::withm language qnd^ I moved twenty-one times before: 1: left home t6:igb;tq
!^;. college;" AsVchlid^
|§i|: Sv don'tremem^
jj§l§il§g V; certai^
\ '*■]■? ! : ': When I was growing up, the military community was homogeneous, like the rural farm community I
u '^- ~£~. • *•'• i live in now. i never had a childhood friend of a different race. A few were Catholic, but we all
attended the same militat^^
: ; of my"peersfi^^
i|;persotJiBgYer;1earneH ; :a:
:bultur©SIhatJife ! wds;^^^
Splsqt in the: car :With;!the:ehgine idling and
:dhd women standing by the Pinko Dyke Go Home sign.: I -don't : lqqk like them anymore; I
i, : idoh'tCut my hdJrbHcbntairtjtn laughiooloud. I make love with the wrbng:sex;:l"yyds
S :,;; : : webring atqvbhdert-sliirfWith a Peace Encampment symbol on the front and th&word
:Sdpph6 onthesbqck; But inside, theme that was
; : forgetobbuf^yvas ; struggling : to say to them, "Hey, I'm one of you. rmblk.pon'f:hvjrt
>: ;me.:]:be1bhg: : ;h^rb;!tdo:'':- : 2 : : :: :/ ; \'.'
: : ::Thedqy:befQre,:iritheyiliqge of Waterloo, wearing my Sgpp^
:-i: : ;Straight intO:th§ir:^;OT
::Sehd see thqt-we Were redsqnbW
: : :: ; " partohd we would :fe
ii^thdt we : ;:did: nqHbol<=fqrni
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eyebali to eyeball with some of the angriest people I have ever
seen. And I thought two things: I should try to understand why
they were angry, and I should try to let them know that 1 wasn't
really that different from them.
"You seem very angry," I "said to a grey haired woman wav-
ing a small flag. She had just finished screaming that we were
filthy assholes. She was neatly dressed, in her early sixties, and
she looked like a mother, a P.T.A. type person, like, one of the
Girl Scout leaders I knew and worked with in my own village.
"Why don't you tell me what you are angry about?" Fear made
my voice awkward, professorial.
"We're trying to raise children here," she snarled, "and those
women are making love right out on the lawn. It's disgusting.
We don't want our children to see that."
There it was. I didn't have any way of knowing what that
— arriving every day from all over the United States and jump-
ing out of their cars and grabbing women they hadn't seen for
months or years and hugging and kissing them in a public dis-
play of affection that was probably not common in Waterloo.
Still, under different, less stressful circumstances, it might not
have been perceived as obscene in Waterloo.
Contained. Predictable. Safe— that was the life she wanted
for her daughter. What she saw in women at the Peace En-
campment was, I believe, an energy that was not contained or
predictable. It was (and is) the energy of self-empowered women
and, like most positive energy, it is—at its source— erotic. "There
are many kinds of power," Audre Lorde reminds us in The Uses
of the Erotic,
The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply
female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our
Christy Rupp, GAS ORPHANS, 1985. Pesticide misuse backfires killing thousands of humans in Bhopal. Steel, 3x3
The artist is a sculptor living in NYC, whose work focuses on economics and its impact o n the environment. ;
woman had actually seen, what anyone in town had actually
seen, because I had only been at the encampment for a few-
hours: But in her mind the major issue wasn't that we were stu-
pid or unpatriotic for thinking there was something wrong with
what was going on at the Seneca Army Depot. She believed we
were obscene and corrupt. She believed we were invading her
town with values and opinions she did not want her children to
.She was right that we were invading her town. Whatever she
had seen on the lawn, it was undeniable that there were hun-
dreds of women— lesbian and heterosexual and bisexual
unexpressed or unrecognized feeling. In order to perpetuate
' itself, every oppression must corrupt or distort those various
sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can
provide energy for change.
Therefore, as women living under patriarchy, we are taught
to separate this erotic energy from every part of our lives except
the specifically sexual, and we are taught to contain the se ™°*
part of our lives to heterosexuality, to one man, to a few child-
bearing years, to specific and limited and allowable expres-
sions. To go outside those limits is to. be branded— whore,
nymphomaniac, lesbian are the most usual brands.
Because the Peace Encampment did not admit men, that en-
ergy was seen as lesbian. Much of that energy was lesbian.
: Lesbians were active at all levels of planning and carrying out.
this event. So were heterosexual and bisexual women. At the
: Encampment itself we talked about these differences: what it
; meant for all of us to be working together, how a "straight"
\ woman felt when a hostile heckler called her a lesbian, how
I lesbians felt about the need to continually defend the reasons
ifora "woman-only" action. There was pain and growth in those
[',.' One vignette in particular recurs to me whenever I consider
\ this issue, however. On the morning of the August 1st demon-
: strgtion, two of us were wondering together how many of the
Kwomen at the Encampment were lesbians. My friend was in her
rsixties and had been a lesbian all of her adult life. "I can't tell,"
■■she said with some chagrin. "You know, I always used to be
;qble to tell, but I can't any more." We decided— on the basis
l perhaps: of nothing but wishful thinking— that probably 50 to 75
; percent of the women there that day were lesbian, andthe sub-
ject disappered until later in the afternoon.
!:V; After hours of standing in the heat waiting for the sheriff to
X allow themarch to proceed, we finally approached the Depot
agates where the civil disobedience -was taking place. Across
Ifrorn the -Depot was a small chapel where a woman had set up
I a: microphone and speakers, and, as the demonstrators filed in
f:frotit of .her, she sang revival hymns and invited them to leave
Their wicked ways and find true peace with Jesus. My affinity .-.
igrbup > had been assigned to the rear of the march where a
Igrpup of about fifty men who supported the action were walk-
ling; local men— farmers, business meniahd teachers.; As we:
lapprbdched the chapel, the gospel singer began to takedown
|herirriicrophone,:her work finished, when :she saw the men :at
IlHe*end pf the inarch, "My God," her voice boomed across the
|Jbwn/''They've;eyen got some, men with !thern>''- Then she pameT
|bdck:;:to the rnicrophone. "Shame on ypu," she called to the.
|mln, ''shame Priybu. Go back;to your wives. Aren't you Qshamecl;
itp:be; seen walking with lesbians.'' I was tppsfunnecl to respond,:,
ibbffhe ministerwalking next to me called out,: "I'm proud tobe;
talking with lesbians."
I^yf was quiet for a moment and then I pal led to the friend walk- ::
lihpghearfpfme, "Hey, do you remember thgfquestibrvj askecl
gyoyihis morning?" "Yes,"she repliediwithout hesitation. "That
(gptrigh thinks the i answer is 100 percent/' The whole rear of the
search sfgrted to laugh becguse everyone knew what the ques-:
|fiph:;rritisf::hdve been and: several admitted to me later they had
ibeenwdndering the something themselves. The answer, in fact,::
fdbesh't Tmatten'The perception does matter— one: hundred -,
llgTp cbrne :tb the Peace::Encgmpment:Wds,fgr;mgstwomen,;gn
IJabf'bf selfremppwermerit/Jt was ah qctthafsaid, "1pm capable :
|pf ;jijc)gihg the terrible destructive power of these weapons and I
||hbbseibsay ho totheiruse, their existence.'' It was an act that:
|recbgnized thejpower of women-bonding together, recognized
||B:bT gncierit ghd heal ing power.; It wdsiSh gbt that, at pne level,
|§xc|Oc|ed:rnen/but at another level it encouraged men to make :
||hgjr pyvrj pctipn or give suppprttb Ihis '.action that women had
fchps£h;:Sbrne rnipnciid one :qr both^; leaving behind in their deci-:;
||)on:;fp. dp'sq the inherent power theyxontrol: under patriarchy,:
|we^id cjiilclcare and carried water gt the demonstrgtigrrdnd ■]■
||qn;th:e"sht(ttle::bijs between the State:Pdrk:ahd theEncamprneht
|^hil^:y^bmeri wentfcimeetings and planned actions and made:
l^lrficdlphoices and policy decisions, As these women tried to:
leredte^d world : fhby'wdnted To : live in with :their children :dnd:
fjoyprs and friends,;they felt empowered.' tp. the citizens of Wa---
terloo and the citizens of the larger world reached by national
media, that empowerment was seen as lesbian and it was seen
as threatening, so threatening that at times those citizens wanted
to destroy it — and us.
Our response to that perception, to that accusation, is
the key. We must not deny the lesbian label. The pain and the
struggle that such labeling brings with it is, in fact, a gift which
marks change so profound/so life-enhancing, that it feels
What I have learned about myself in recent years— -and I think
I am like my neighbors and the angry citizens of Waterloo and
some of the women who came to the Peace Encampment and
left disaffected and angry because it was not what they expected
— what I have learned is that I do not suffer change gladly. I
don't mean the surface changes. I can move from place to place
and that seems like change, but as long as lean bring my box
with me, containing the familiar things in life, then I'm not in,
trouble. I think that when the people who work at the Seneca
Army Depot are confronted with women who want a specific
: missile out, that is a surface change. When we talk about want-
ing to convert the Depot to other forms of production, that is
more basic. But neither is as basic to the way Americans live
our Jives as our assumptions about family and social relation-
ships and responsibilities. However painful the change, those
assumptions must change if we are to survive.
That day at Waterloo, standing facing the angry, shouting
crowd,! began to talk with three young women, teenagers, who
did not seem so angry. They felt safe. They were out for a little
adventure. When it went on longer than they expected, one had
to run home and put her sour cream and onion dip back into
the refrigerator. They wanted to know was I on welfare and
whowas taking care of my children? When I told them I was a
fedcherand a Girl Scout leader but had no children of my own,
.they ^seemed surprised, interested enough to ■keep talking tome.
Finally onescrewed her courage up for the BIGquestibn. "Are
: you: gay?" she asked. "Yes,"! Priswered and they 'stepped back,
physically withdrew a few stepSo"Does it matter?" J asked. ;"0h, :
hot to :me ..." she insisted bravely, ''but .,.:" and^she gestured
over, to where her brother was shouting at Some of the other
women peace marchers. She seemed confused. "How can you?
■Butyqu said... What about?",., she : stood staring at me trying to :
understand where I fit into whafshe had heard about lesbians.:
Later in that Jong afternoon one of the same young; vvomen
asked me, ''Are you scared?" ^'Yeah,''T said, my voice: letting
her know it was true. "Aren'typu?" Shesaid no, at first, looking i
again toward .her brother. I knew she was thinking:he:was there::
to protect her, that I was the one of us at risk.Thenshejhesi- ■
tqted. Well, maybe she'was a little scared, she: admitted; ;:
I don't know if she could see the hand weapons bulging out
pf pockets^: She! knew, as I did, that a man had been arrested,
when he dashed into the crowd waving d loaded rifle egrlier
that afternbbn: She had hot heard the sheriff when I asked him
if hekrifew some of the'men in the crowd werearmed grid was-
he dealing withthat potential problem? 'This is America," he;
snarled at me,::''citizens have a right to'bearprms. '';::;
. :But I don't think that was what herfedr was about. She was
afraid of me, and she was afraid of what she was learning, J :
: don't ever want to apologize for being the spurce of that fear.
: When we—any pf [us--hgye that urge tg apologize for pausing,
: doubt and fear gnd pain and anger by being: who we are and
^speaking for what'we believe in, then: I think we need to step
i: Back gnd look gf the expectations we are bringing tp the event,
peerbackjfhe layers pf Pur own "shpujds^ grid ''pught-tp's'': : ; :
:.-:■ : When J dp that for myself, I realize several things. In the past, I
havp described myself as working best within a clearly defined
hierarchy, one in which I know my place, to whom I report, and
to whom I give orders. It was very early patterning and, for the
pldest of three sisters, very relevant. I have also said to myself
that i learn most readily when I am not threatened, when i am
But, in my honest moments, I know that I do my best work in a
very different situation: among peers, when I can challenge and
be challenged. I know, too, that my important learning has not
taken place when I was most comfortable, not even when I was
sort of comfortable, but when I was dragged kicking and scream-
ing through some of the most painful experiences of my life.
So I wish we wouldn't worry so much about alienating peo-
ple. Not when we are doing the work we believe we need to
do. It is a mark of change. It is the price of change.
Finally, I do not believe we can talk about disarmament only
in terms of missile deployment and megaton destructive capac-
ity or strategic and tactical, or long, medium, short range. To
change the. structure, to change the hierarchy that builds, sup-
ports, and deploys-cind may someday use-nuclear weap-
ons requires more than knowledge, more than statistics. It
requires changes in our human selves and human lives that aic
so basic and deep they must seem at times life threatening
i respect the anger of the citizens of Waterloo. ! am myself an
,-inqry woman. Neither they nor I could control the final results
of "that walk through the town of Waterloo in the summer ot
1983 but I believe it was an encounter that will have far reach-
ing and positive results if we do not deny who we ore, if we do
not deny the source of our energy and power.
Writing and research time for this article was supported by a
grant from Holding Our Own, A Fund For Women, Albany NY.
•'■"Uses of thP Erotic. The Erotic a, Pc,w«," S.stor ^f^/^ 1 '^ by
The Goi^ma Press Feminist Senes tTrumatr.burn, N^ : lVcl), p. 3-
i frmfiitmm ntogara
on the fifth anniversary of the Nicaraguan revolution, July 19,1 984
There is a season when all wars end:
: wrientlie rains come. - > ■'. ■% \ .
When the landscape opens '
its own eyes! -< ': <-,[■' '-
and laugte at your talfe of dying. ':■'.
When all trie dead trees open their hands
tothesky ; ,' ■*' ; ; - i r
arid bleed scarlet flowers ■;■
,frqm;their fingertips, ,. - . s , . <_, *
' and then you remember, before the blood ; . -
. redwas the ..cote you loved.
There is a season when every ancient anger "\
' settles, conceding * '-,' * . ' - v '■;''' A
td water the* grass.: '..;<■■. ? ; , '- :,>,;.-'..>, ■„ i„ ■-'*, : j :
When nights are split by the bright
, electric Voiees'of your'ancestors," „ - ' ■ ■ ■ ■: - : s ■ ., » !
i .4nd|he'0nes^Q"d\jnl^dJyx)t^ancfstor^,'> , ; ,'- ■'
Pairing tpbnfe another;';, - ; ;„ > > ,' '}-i'/S-.
,bet^en earth. and sfey,'' ■"■[',■ \- , i: i\ ,.-- ; ',-'
,,andall of the old grudges ,; ,, ;
. fall, one by one,; ; ; "': ■ ;: .. '• ; " > ' , U ;■
Qn the roof of your house ',, , .;'„;,
sounding so. mucfl alike' '> a ; - !: ,'
>, they lull ydurbahies to sleep. : %
This is the'season that renders :
; all things equal: ,;>. '.'/.''
.the season of the arsonist-Creator.
When sun sets a fire in trie clpuds
that is indistinguishable from morning.
When "sunset" and "fire",
and "morning" are all the same word. , , ;
When "woman" and "man" are the same word.
- When "justice" is not a word
because it is air, >
and we breathe it. .
Even the animalswill remember this-season:
< those that curse, : . , :
'.arid those that dance because
.m the rairi they are equal.! ;
The timid ones , '«-'
creep from their sedret wet homes; -
to move with their thickef-skirined brothers, :
to move from the predator's shadow. ''<'■■
Today there are np shadows. ' *
The hunted creatures are cloaked in rain, invisible
and fearless.' , ■'■>■. ,;,>■-' , -
.And the hunters,- .;'-. •'■";' ■ ', ■ ' •
the Nortri American birds of prey
foraging too far from their own territory,
each laboring underteoneV *<;>-,
rslqw^beatirigwihg:', *;</'!, % [<l \.\: ■*..>■:. >!,.'>. ,, ■
: the hunters growheavy;' ;, . -;■■>'■', * .,
Even the natural laws that propel them
aire foreign in , these hills > .
oftheother America f .*;',. »,' : . ,- ' " '."; ..
whentherainsconie .:«' ■ ; . ; ' ' ' "■■ °
finally. ■'!■',' : i ; '.';>• >'■-:;<■ -'<■'• ■ '■ ..'-'<
* Trieir raven mouths, suffocate \ , ■ * ..
in clouds, ■/ ; * , ;
, drown in- the wet air. "\
From your distance, . ■*.:,' -■ ,'■
you seethe horizon shimmer where ,
they fall, one by one , - . ,' .'• . .
into the hills. . * ■ '- , •
A greatprarige flower ofheat .
rises quietly from each grave. '
This is the season when all wars end.
when the children of your .
children ask you about this day,
. you will tell theni:
On trie eighth day God made justice,
On the eighth day God sent the rains
to the other America,
to drown the birds, and give us a fighting chance.
And the little ones will believe you because !
in those days children will grow
with their hearts intact. '•'•.';.
BARBARA KTNGSOLVER is a Tucson-based writer concerned #ith women's issues and struggles for, social, change. Her work.has appeared widely.
BY LUCY R. L1PPARD
It has been suggested
that survival is the only
modern topic, and artists
seeking immortality in the nuclear age must confront the notion
that there may be no posterity. In this context, art can be seen
either as an escape or as a strike for peace. It is the artist's job
to conceive the inconceivable, and to move us — to move us
closer to realization, to empower us to imagine, even to imag-
ine the most dreadful things. But artists are as scared as every-
body else to get too close to the fires of extinction. Contemporary
art is a clear reflection of how the American people fail to cope
with reality. Just as images of Hiroshima or the atomic bomb
rarely surfaced in the high art of the 1940s and '50s, there is
little imagery today that deals with contemporary reality — with
all those issues that are integral parts of our global predica-
ment, issues like racism, invasions in the Third World, multina-
tional complicity in governmental corruption, the feminization
of poverty, and so on and on and on.
Many women are among the artists who have found it neces-
sary or possible to cope directly with the fear and trembling that
lies beneath so much contemporary art. Whether or not you
agree that survival is a "woman's issue," a glance at the last ten
years of "political art" (and its subcategory, anti-nuke art) turns
up more work by women than by men. Nancy Spero's proto-
feminist "Bomb Series" of 1966 remains a classic and coura-
geous attempt to picture not only a potential holocaust, but its
origins in imperialism, male supremacy, even religion — and to
make the connections between the Vietnam war and gender
issues. The "Bomb Series" consists of small works in pen and
gouache and sometimes collage, on fragile rice paper, their
physical delicacy belying the terrifying harshness of their imag-
ery. Bombs, mushroom clouds, and helicopters were nightmar-
ishly transformed into monsters, victims, lumps of shit, penises —
and sometimes breasts, acknowledging women's participation
in the human race and the fact that no one is absolved from
responsibility. In its references to militarism and the apocalypse,
the series was prophetic of the Jerry Falwell/Ronald Reagan
"Armageddon" theory of the '80s, in which the good guys will
be "raptured out" of this world while the rest of us blow it.
Other early antiwar pieces were Lil Picard's wild happenings
about wounds and cosmetics from the late '60s (when she too
was in her sixties); Carolee Schneemann's visceralized and sex-
ualized 1967 Divisions and Rubble, with its cycles of birth and
decay, creation and destruction tied into the wasteful attack on
Vietnam; May Stevens' "Big Daddy" series fusing male suprem-
acy and militarism from cops to soldiers to the KKK; and Anita
Steckel's often-banned collages connecting male sexuality and
brutality. But it was not until the later 70s that nuclear war in
particular became a "popular" feminist subject. This came at a
point in the left/feminist art movement when self image had given
way to social image, as though a decade of self-exploration
had provided the confidence to take on the world.
For some time, a major debate has raged within the Wom-
en's Liberation Movement about whether environmental, mili-
tary, and all fundamental human rights are "women's issues,"
or whether, as Radical Feminists contend, the broadening of
feminism's focus has diluted and diverted it from its primary
goal — the termination of male supremacy: "If ever/thing is femi-
nist, then nothing is feminist."
The traditional, if romanticized, connection between women
and the earth has made the environment a special concern for
many women and women artists. Pacifism and antiwar work
have become almost inseparable from "earthkeeping" itself (the
title of Heresies' 1979 ecology issue), as was made supremely
evident by the "Women and Life on Earth" conference on "eco-
feminism" in Amherst, Mass., in March 1980. Culture was for
once acknowledged as a major component of the agenda.
Workshops ranged from "The Politics of Diet" to "The Ecology
of Creativity" and "Art as Health and Healing." May Stevens
wrote the general statement on the conference's brochure, saying
in part: "Like poetry and art, women are supposed to be inef-
fectual in the face of the heavy stuff: governments, hardware,
money, and so forth. But we helped start both the anti-war move-
ment and the ban-the-bomb movements of the '60s. ..What
women stand for and what art and poetry stand for are what
we must preserve for any future we'd want to live in." (Stevens
herself is currently embarking on a major new series on the
Greenham Common Peace Camp, and the history of women in
While women have genuinely and forcefully identified with
the cause of peace, it is still questionable whether women are
innately more peaceful than men — a contention heavily con-
tested within the women's movement. Cultural feminists implic-
itly or explicitly defend women's moral (and even biological)
superiority. As Dr. Helen Caldicott puts it, "Males are particu-
larly adept at the denial of unpleasant emotions. Perhaps it is
LUCY R. LIPPARD is a writer and feminist art critic and the author
of ten books on contemporary art.
_-j . ._ _^x_lJ. 'll '" "' Ijj-UMMit-"'!!?'
- i ; c 1
Nancy Spero, CLOWN AND GUNSHIP, gouache and ink on paper, 1968, 24" x 36"
this defense mechanism that sublimates the urge to survive and
allows politicians to contemplate 'first strike capabilities' or lim-
ited nuclear war.'" And Dr. Lynne Jones sees hope in the "polit-
ical processes emphasized by the women's movement — shared
decisionmaking; non-hierarchal, leaderless groups; coopera-
tion and non-violence" as opposed to "the hierarchal and au-
thoritarian systems that prevail in mixed groups."
The Radical Feminist Organizing Committee's basic position
— that gender is not innate but socially constructed — disallows
the premise that "women are somehow responsible for life on
earth" because they bear children. "The equation of mother-
hood (nurturance) and womanhood (as part of the human spe-
cies) reinforces polarization ...How can women have a 'special'
interest in nuclear war? A nuclear disaster would be the most
equal event in the history of the world." Ellen Willis charges that
the Women's Peace movement, by focusing on men's and wom-
en's character traits, "ignores the structural aspects of male su-
premacy. The claim that women are superior to men is nothing
new; when men make it, it's called 'putting women on a pedes-
tal.' Men will gladly concede our superiority so long as they get
to keep their power... If the women's peace movement were
seriously concerned with the imperialism of the government, it
would be working to change or overthrow that government"
instead of identifying with the victims of imperialism and thus
escaping its inherent responsibility for it. "It amazes us," she
continued, "that a woman should be asked to set aside the ques-
tion of her right to control her body in favor of a campaign to
preserve the human race. One's opposition to war should be
based on political and personal reasons that have nothing to
do with being a woman."
My own position as a socialist and cultural feminist is that
women cultural workers are uniquely challenged to integrate
radical social change with our concerns for women and their
bodies (raped, forcibly pregnant, tortured, victimized by pov-
erty, or on the front lines of liberation struggles). Not because
we are women but because as women we bring a different
experience to radical theory, conflict, and imagery — an exper-
ience that has been historically missing and/or invisible.
The women at Greenham insist that the international wom-
en's peace actions "have nothing to do with excluding men. It's
got to do with, for once, including women." The spontaneous
art woven into the barbed-wire-topped fences around the US
missile-base continues the Women's Pentagon Action tradition
Artist NANCY SPERO began her activist career in the anti-Vietnam
War movement and went on to feminist work focused on women's
lack of parity in the art world. She is a founding member of the
A.I.R. Gallery, a women's cooperative now in its 14th year.
Sheila Pinkel, NUCLEAR POWER, silverprint and xerox, 11 " x 36"
SHEILA PINKEL is an artist currently living and working in Santa
of fusing women's lives, work, arts, and politics. As such, it has
been an effective participatory esthetic. The image of 30,000
women holding hands, surrounding the 9-mile periphery of the
base in 1983, is a compelling one unequaled by the strongest
"high art," which of course acts in an entirely different sphere
and manner. The metaphor of the web — "fragile in its parts and
strong in its whole," as Marina Warner has put it — has spread
as a hopeful symbol around the world, in forms as varied as a
postcard chain to wish for peace; a 75,000-foot "Ribbon" around
the Pentagon and other government buildings in the summer of
1 985; the feminist performance group Sisters of Survival (SOS)'s
European tour; Donna Henes' "Chants for Peace;" Joyce Cutler
Shaw's "Messages from the World" (such as "Survival" written
in ice sculpture outside the UN); or Helene Aylon's "ceremonial
ar t" — the Women's Sac Project, which collected earth near
Strategic Air Command bases and put it in pictorial pillowcases
("because we don't sleep so well") displayed on clotheslines
and in "dream-ins" all over the world.
Any anti-nuclear art has three basic and often contradictory
mandates: to make people terrified of nuclear war, to keep
people from feeling so helpless before their terror that they won't
act to prevent it, and to inform — to help us all understand the
roots of our terror in domestic and foreign policy, state terror-
ism, profiteering, and other underlying causes. There was a point
in the mid-'70s when I was glad to see any picture of a mush-
room cloud, but since then a developing progressive and femi-
nist imagery has demanded more complex images. The poverty
of our current symbolic vocabulary is directly linked to the fact
that subject matter like nuclear war has been a taboo in the
context within which esthetic complexity is developed — i.e. the
art world. In an art context, we can "like" an image without
internalizing its meaning. We can take an image of war more
seriously as art than as reality.
Without organizational work of some kind, and the hard-won
political esthetic analysis that comes from such work, even the
most sincerely "concerned" art tends to float free of the crises
that inspired it and of the audience that might be moved by it.
By organizational, I don't necessarily mean going to a lot of
meetings, but substantial esthetic depth seems to demand at
least some kind of interconnection with and mutual support among
artists with similar concerns, as well as with those people or-
ganizing in the "real world" — a relationship rife with frustration
as well as vitality.
Ominously, much art that purports to deplore the end of the
world seems to be modeled on images of fantasy, natural di-
saster, or Acts of God, as though the enemies came from some
occult "other world" rather than living in our own towns, our
own countries. Nuclear holocaust has become a disembodied
bugbear, apparently unconnected to local political issues,
virtually impossible to concretize in form. It's been made ab-
stract, and therefore in control of those who are inaccessible to
us. Like natural disaster, it is treated as something impersonal,
seen by tele-vision or long distance. Artists often treat the after-
math, the day after, rather than the cause, the day before. The
bomb comes from "above)" from "heaven," producing a deadly
fatalism encouraged by those who prefer to manipulate a pow-
erless, silent populace.
There is, of course, a basic contradiction in the creation of a
profound art about death. Art is a creative act; it's supposed to
be committed to life. There are times when refusal to depict the
wholesale death that may be awaiting us is a cowardly act;
there are times when it is an act of courage, as Jonathan Schell
has noted: We have to respect "all forms of refusal to accept
the unnatural and horrifying prospect of a nuclear holocaust."
Sisters of Survival, SOMETHING IS CLOUDING YOUR FUTURE, 1985, billboard
On the other hand, with recognition comes responsibility. Just
how can art be made about silence, apathy, inertia? How does
a visual artist, concerned with envisioning by concrete means,
confront what Schell calls "the unthinkable, but not necessarily
Artists can't change the world alone. Neither can anybody
else, alone. But art is a powerful and potentially subversive tool
of consciousness. Avant-garde art is traditionally defined as
oppositional, worming its way out of prescribed channels. Even
the weight of the current system should not be able to extinguish
totally that time-honored function. An artist's best chance to sur-
vive ethically and economically is to resist confinement to a sin-
gle cultural context. Feminists have an advantage here. There is
still a network (if a faltering one) or context within which femi-
nists, like politically dissident cultural workers, can work to es-
cape the iron fist of unstated censorship and the velvet glove of
self-censorship that control the mainstream.
The mid '80s offer a curious little pocket of air in which more
or less politicized art can breathe within the art world, provided
SISTERS OF SURVIVAL is an anti-nuclear performance art group
founded in 1981 by Jerri Allyn, Anne Gauldin, Cheri Gaulke, Sue
Maberry, and Nancy Angelo. Although not an order of nuns, the
feminist group nevertheless uses a nun's image symbolically.
the messages are not too pointed, too angry, too close. This has
facilitated an uneasy dialogue between art worlds, just as overly
feminist art was able to infiltrate the art community in the early-
to-mid-'70s. If socially concerned art doesn't sell real well, and
socially involved art doesn't sell at all, nevertheless this is a
moment that should be exploited for all it's worth, not just to get
more art shown, but to get more responsible and responsive
artists heard and understood, and to spread the word that these
taboo subjects are indeed "artworthy," so they can be taken on
by a broader esthetic and social spectrum of artists.
With Gorbachev's test ban proposal lying on Reagan's door-
mat and Star Wars the most potentially disastrous art concept
around, the following parable (from The Washington Specta-
tor) has a moral for artists and feminists alike: A California high
school class was asked by their teacher if they had hope for the
future. Twenty-nine students answered "no," and one answered
"yes." When asked why she had hope (I like to think it was a
girl), she said "My parents, both of them, are working hard to
find an answer."
Passages from this article first appeared in a lecture commissioned
by Ohio Wesleyan University in 1984; others are from the rough
draft of a book on feminist art I am co-authoring with Harmony
Hammond and Elizabeth Hess, to be published by Pantheon.
Has your focus
For an "activist" there is a great advantage to growing old (I am
looking forward to it). So far, my years seem to be showing me
that there is no way to predict when and how something will pay
off. The fact that a course of hard work has not brought the
desired result doesn't mean it won't ever. We must realize that
change doesn't happen in convenient increments or at conve-
nient and expected times. It is a great advantage to have sur-
vived some politically gruesome times; you know they will pass.
When 9 of my 11 sons became draft eligible from 1962 to the end
of the US involvement in the Vietnam War, my ideas and moral-
ity, my ways of looking at ethical questions began changing rap-
idly. I began working with people who were exploring ways to
resolve conflict in non-violent ways. I had first become involved
in national politics when I realized that Richard Nixon might be-
come president in 1960. 1 learned a lot about power during this
time. There have been many points of recognition for which I
have been surprised and grateful, considering my age.
Macy E. Morse
...Began as a community organizer, worked on tenant issues,
environmental., was troubled by feeling like an "outside" orga-
nizer, e.g., working with public housing residents when I didn't
live in public housing. I found women's issues were most rele-
vant to my life. Carole McCabe
Shifted.. instead of isolating the nuclear issue and gearing pro-
test at the Pentagon, I believe more strongly in working on a
local level; the violence in everyday life won't end with a nuclear
freeze. "Activism," one-on-one, is as important as marching to
My interest in social change was not an inherited trait. My par-
ents were very conservative, religious, working class people
with middle class values. My father stood politically to the right
of John Birch. I graduated college with a B.A. in Art without a
capacity to think critically. In graduate school I was introduced
to Marxism which became a tool for analyzing the world. Cou-
pled with my exposure to the Women's Movement of the early
70's and my own identity crisis, I developed an understanding
of the nature of race, class and sex oppression. Subsequent travel
to the German Democratic Republic, China, Cuba and Nicara-
gua strengthened my commitment to the need for structural
change in the USA while my involvement in civil disobedience
provided me with my first taste of real satisfaction from mean-
ingful activity. Donna Grund Slepack
I resist single-issue feminism, i.e., militating on behalf of repro-
ductive rights or equal pay issues. I guess you can say as I get
older my focus has broadened— I recognize the systemic dis-
crimination against women and minimization of their contribu-
Narrowed at first to focus on the issues I was most confused
about... I had to be separate from men to allow space for
anger/distrust, and I took the side of women on every issue.
Now my analysis is more centered — anger dissipated by under-
standing of our culture's complexities.
tions, needs and desires.
Since 1974 with "Torture in Chile" I have been speaking out in
my artwork on women's status under male control. I record the
most extreme instances of victimization — women political pris-
oners or woman as a victim of man-made wars. On the other
hand, I portray woman as the activator, a positive force, an his-
torical presence. Many of the figures are bouyant and athletic,
signifying woman in control of her own body in a non-phallocentric
world, in a world that is not threatened by extinction.
More and more I feel that education is very important. As a
college teacher I try to get students of both sexes to participate
in class and to think critically about unsupported statements made
by people in authority. Janet Ruth Heller
My ideas have become more complex, more involved with psy-
choanalytic and theoretical issues — a lot from British and French
feminist theory— and with the language of representation itself.
But in a sense I was always interested in that language and how
it intersected with the social positioning of women and the sig-
nificance of gender.
Q U E S T I
broadened or narrowed
I hope they've broadened! For me the stages were consciousness-
raising, then political organizing with other women artists and
.then trying to reach a broader public. For the last 7 years I've
been doing public art, mostly in subway stations. This is so much
more satisfying than what I was doing before, and it feels like a
natural extension of my political beliefs. Joyce Kozloff
Falling in love with a woman caused my political ideas to narrow
quickly onto myself and how I was affected by patriarchy, sexist,
etc. Later, moving to New York City and becoming more com-
fortable with my sexuality served to broaden my political ideas
considerably. I now know that poverty, racism and sexism are
inextricably bound together. Carrie Moyer
There are issues I am sensitive to because of my own gender,
class and background, but I have never worried about address-
ing issues not particular to the details of my own life. Injustice
does not stop at the boundaries of our own experience. I refer to
the statement of the German-Jewish philosopher, Hannah Arendt,
who, when asked if she was ashamed to be German because of
the atrocities committed by the Nazi during World War II, re-
plied: "I am ashamed to be human." Holly Metz
Children and grandchildren and now great-grandchildren as well
as all other children are my reasons. My convictions are
stronger. ..my legs, weaker. I write a lot of letters.
Narrowed to the specific issue of apartheid ... I have come to see
it as a manifestation of much larger issues.
My focus has broadened. My initial "rage stage" as a feminist
led me toward separatism and women's spirituality. I chose to
work in the church because it enables a common language with
many different kinds of people, including our enemies (the far
right). Also, because if it is the root of the problem, it must also
be part of the solution. Rev. Karen Ziegler
I would always hope that political ideas evolve so that one doesn't
become a prisoner of absolute certainty and the beholder of
ultimate truth. I have at times found myself acting rigidly, but this
condition negates reality and is an obstacle to emancipation.
Since my first days as a student activist, I have attempted to
consider myself not as the owner of the truth, but simply as a
person with concrete experiences who was participating in the
construction of a world which would be easier to love and be
more just. Silvia Malagrino
I would say that I have gone back and forth... broad in the '60's
with anti-nuke... narrow in the 70's with straight feminism... in
the '80's again broadened taking feminism to ecological wis-
dom. My political ideas have evolved to believe that women must
get into the mainstream (or make us the mainstream). Separate
exhibitions patterned on the type we had in the 70's with the
same people may have a negative effect ... giving mainstreamers
the out of having done a "women's show." These are usually less
funded, get second-class treatment and are not usually well-
curated... making women's work show up less well.
Mary Beth Edelson
My ideas and commitment have become clearer. In 1963, when I
left the country to work as a Peace Corps volunteer/community
organizer in Guayaquil, Ecuador, I believed my power as an Amer-
ican to make change. I returned two years later with a profoundly
despairing sense of what damage even I could do to people of
an entirely different culture. Mamie Mueller
My focus has narrowed, possibly because by keeping my focus
broad I found that my energy was dissipating. In most activist
groups, I've found that the major work is done by a small core
group and, for me at least, energy has to be conserved.
All an American has to do is read their own history in depth,
compare it to the version instilled in us from youth, and recog-
nize our actions at home and abroad compared to what we are
taught this country is supposed to stand for. Focus automatically
broadens, a frightening process! Martha Eberle
Think of the world and everything in it as all made of the same
stuff, like a sweater stretched over the earth's surface, over its
hollows and protuberances. The density of the weave, its tex-
ture, even its color change, deepening and clotting when it falls
in the open spaces, thinning as it stretches over the rises. But it's
all the same. Light catches differently and tension relaxes or
pulls to near breaking, but everything is connected, part of ev-
erything else. Our lives depend on knowing this and acting on it.
i ^ B "%
Shelley Silver, IF WE COULD SEE YOU... subway installation, 1982
SHELLY SILVERS is a video artist living
in New York City.
In October, 1984 a group of black com-
munity activists were arrested by the Joint
Terrorist Task Force on charges of con-
spiracy. The arrest was the culmination of
two years of surveillance and millions of
dollars spent by the government. The
defendents were acquitted of all criminal
charges and were to become known as
the New York 8. The following is an inter-
view with Collette Pean, one of the New
York 8, and Olive Armstrong, who spent
eight months in jail for refusing to testify
against her comrades in front of the
What did you call yourselves before you
were the New York 8?
Olive Armstrong-We were the Mobiliza-
tion Committee Against Police Brutality.
We had a parent organization called the
Sunrise Collective. From that grew other
organizations like Jazz Comes to Fight
Back, The Black Unemployed Youth
Movement, which dealt with getting jobs
for teenagers and promoting their devel-
opment, and the Mobilization Committee
Against Police Brutality.
What is the relationship of this organiza-
tion to the Black Liberation Movement?
Olive Armstrong-It is part of it because
our aim was and is to struggle for the
liberation of black people.
Collette Pean-We participated in differ-
ent types of organizations to try and
speak to some of the different aspects of
the work. The Mobilization Committee
Against Police Brutality was in response
to what we thought was a very sharp
attack on our community — police mur-
ders aimed at keeping people terrorized
and too scared to fight back. So we did
outreach and education on these killings.
Jazz Comes to Fight Back was an at-
tempt to bring a monthly jazz program
back into the Harlem community. The
Black Unemployed Youth Movement was
targeted toward the fact that 80% of our
youth is unemployed — they never learned
how to work and they are totally inexperi-
enced in terms of dealing with the real
world. A number of us from all around
the city came together to try to educate
people through forums and outreach and
to just bring people together. The police
killings had been going on for many
years and so we saw that there was a
need to address that. That while people
would become upset whenever a killing
took place — Randy Evans, Clifford
Glover — and would come out and dem-
onstrate their anger, it was something
that died down after awhile. We thought
that there was a need to educate people
to the fact that these police killings were
It is a direct attack on our lives and
they kill us in many ways but the sharp-
est form of our destruction is the bullet.
We thought that it was necessary for us
to continue demonstrations against these
killings but at the same time move it to a
higher level of understanding because
we wanted to make people understand
that we are at war and that we have to
prepare for that war and that the only
way that we can change the quality of
our lives is through revolution.
What was the New York 8 charged with
and were any of you convicted?
Collette Pean-Let me start with the ar-
rests. On the night of October 17 they
sent over 500 agents of the FBI-NY Po-
lice Department Joint Terrorist Task Force
out on the streets of NY to arrest eight
people. What that meant was that in my
house on Bedford Street in Brooklyn they
knocked the door down. There were cops
all over the neighborhood — surveillance
units, unmarked units, FBI, SWAT, NYC
police, transit police, housing police. The
situation was repeated in Queens at Viola
Plumers's house, down the street from
me on Midwood, at Robert Taylor's
house, at Coltrane Chimurenga's house
— six houses in all were broken into and
I mean literally the doors were battered
down. SWAT ran in with their shotguns,
bazookas. They blocked off an entire
block on Midwood. Several of the houses
had small children in them — it was 12:30
at night. They had their guns pointed at
the children, a baby one year old had a
gun at its head. At ray house we had a
1 5 year old — my roommate's daughter;
they terrorized her, came close to arrest-
ing her, handcuffed her, threw her against
the wall and down on the floor. They
held her there while they proceeded to
take the two adults, in handcuffs under
arrest, out of the house.
The entire operation is what they call a
pre-emptive strike. We had, according to
JOAN HARMON is currently working on a
video, Straight Ahead, about the institution-
alization of the right wing and the criminali-
zation of political activity in this country.
them, committed no crime yet. Their ra-
tionale is that they're going to move on
us to prevent bloodshed before we com-
mit a crime. This comes from a military
strategy that they have developed in Cen-
tral America and that Israel uses against
the Palestinians. You blow them away
before they do anything and you don't
have any problems. It places our case in
■the context of what they're trying to do
The next step in our case that I think is
important for folks to realize is that we
were held under preventive detention. A
few days before our arrest a new law
was passed that says that a suspect can
be arrested and held without bail pend-
ing trial if the government alleges and
can prove that they are dangerous to the
community, and that there is a risk of
flight. It was targeted very much at the
overall community — not just the eight of
us who were arrested, not even to the
other over 20 people who were subpoe-
naed for the grand jury and requested to
testify, eight of them ending up going to
jail. As they knew they would — they knew
they wouldn't testify; they were in jail
even longer than the defendants for re-
fusing to testify before the grand jury. It
was targeted precisely at our communi-
ties to terrorize them. People woke up at
12:30 at night — the doors were being
busted down down the hallway. They
heard voices saying, "Keep your head in
the door else you'll get it blown off." An
attempt was made to portray us as peo-
ple no one would want to know because
obviously we must have done something.
No one gets arrested by 500 agents of
the Joint Terrorist Task Force in such a
manner, certainly not just any criminals.
To get back to what we were charged
with; we were charged under the RICO
Act, which is racketeer influencing cor-
rupt organizations. They said all of our
families, friends and principal political
affiliates, which is what the grand jury
resisters were, were also members of the
enterprise. So the resisters were not in-
dicted just yet but they knew the resisters
were all members according to them.
They said that this criminal enterprise's
purpose was to rob armored cars and
break people out of prison. They said we
were the successors to Brinks. Brinks was
an expropriation attempt by a group of
people who had worked in various polit-
ical movements and felt that money that
was being stolen daily from the people
in this country needed to come back to
the people and so they were going to go
get it. It did not work.
I guess part of the reason that we were
targeted is that we fought back against
the grand jury — the witch hunt that went
on in the black community after that [the
Brinks case] happened. The FBI was all
over the community — breaking down
doors, subpoening right, left and center;
it wanted to paint all political demands
as part of a terrorist conspiracy. We very
much stood up and said the real terror-
ists are the ones who are letting our
grandmothers get blown away by the
cops*, letting children die because police
officers shoot them, the terrible condi-
tions. We very much fought against that
as being a terrorist act. So they use our
political sympathy for the question of the
black people's right to struggle by any
means necessary and our open support
for armed self defense as one of the
reasons why they targeted us.
It had been two years of intense sur-
veillance culminating in video cameras
in the hallways of two houses, there were
video cameras installed across the street,
there were still cameras all over the city.
In this building they took pictures of peo-
ple coming in and out of the building at
all times — all the people even if they had
no relationship to us. They would follow
people who were just walking down the
street, people would pass us on the street
and they would follow them. Other times
people would come out of a building
after us and they would say "Aha!" and
they would send teams of agents scurry-
ing all over the city following people.
They spent an unbelievable amount of
manpower on the case because they had
agents following us, up to a hundred a
day, and towards the end of the investi-
gation, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
They had three bugs in my apartment;
they put one it the kitchen and living
room and they said "Aha, they aren't
saying anything; obviously they have high
security, let's put a bug in the bedroom."
They still didn't catch anything criminal
so they put another one in the bathroom.
The amount of money, resources, and
manpower expended is unbelievable;
they never saw us committing what is
called an overt crime. One of the agents
who testified said that that might be true,
he never saw Coltrane Chimurenga, who
he followed all over the city, commit a
crime. But he knew he was justified in
continuing his surveillance because he
believed Mr. Chimurenga was planning
a crime since he could see it in his eyes.
You know, it sounds real funny and cute,
*Eleanor Bumpers, a 64-year-old woman was
shot dead by the police in her apartment in
October, 1984. She was two months late on her
but you know, on the basis of this fool's
testimony, my co-defendant Coltrane
Chimurenga spent from October 17 to
the end of April locked up in the Metro-
politan Correctional Center because they
were able to get a judge to say he's at
risk of flight, is a dangerous terrorist and
Coltrane Chimurenga is the one they
admit to having started the first dossier
on. That was back in '68 when he sub-
scribed to the Black Panther newspaper.
So much for the free press and the right
of free speech. Another agent said he
knew he was on the right track with his
criminal investigation because he saw us
handing out a political newspaper, and
he knew he was on the right track be-
cause the newspaper had the red, black
and green color of the black liberation
flag on it. Since he was investigating the
black liberation movement, he knew he
was on target. Which again speaks to
what the real purpose of the Joint Terror-
ist Task Force is, a political police squad
that blends the FBI and all the little local
police units into one national secret po-
lice that goes around and, from the most
mundane transit cop all the way through
to the FBI special agents, [becomes] one
national apparatus designed to keep
track of all activists, in our case black
Our defense strategy was to lay out
very clearly that this is a government
conspiracy going on here, attempting to
criminalize our movement. We don't deny
that we had guns, we think that people
need to have guns for self defense. Cer-
tainly they don't have any problem with
the Klan having guns or the Aryan Na-
tion or the Order or any of the right-wing
groups; they only have problems with
black people having guns and people
having a right to armed self-defense.
The government brought their case,
which they thought was airtight, to trial.
We were able through our strategy to
win. Because people came to court
consistently, the community was very, very
powerful in terms of their support of us.
We beat the government's conspiracy
case and exposed their attack on the
black liberation movement. We were ac-
quitted of all the major conspiracy
charges. We contested everything the gov-
ernment said we had done; we proved
that we were not criminals.
Collette Pean-We see that fascism is on
the rise, the organized move to legally
use terror as the means of control now.
What is happening in the economy is the
ever increasing concentration of the
Robin Michals, ASSESSING THE FACTS: BHOPAL, 1985, graphite on paper, 40" x 30"
ROBIN MICHALS is an artist who lives and
:; works in New York City.
wealth, the number of people controlling
the economy becomes smaller and more
concentrated and totally dominated by
finance capital, the banks are now in
charge of everything. How are they going
to take care of no more jobs? They are
going to say women don't need to work
anymore. Women should go home and
have babies — that's what women are
really about. You have the whole cam-
paign culturally that women have no right
to work. Very subtle — women really want
to have babies, and they ignore that
women work not because they don't want
to have babies but because they are
human beings and have a right to work.
So I think the goverment thought of us
as being so dangerous because we con-
sistently put out there that people have
the right to struggle by any means neces-
sary. I think that it's not just a race
problem — it's that people in this country
are oppressed by capitalism and need to
find each other as allies to fight against
that. What's happening is that in many
different areas people are being at-
tacked and they need to fight back. Peo-
ple that have one issue or two issues in
which they can see the government's re-
pression need to organize to push back
the tide now. We say, build a popular
front against fascism.
We're not saying everybody has to
agree with everything but we have to be
able to dissent and to raise our demo-
cratic rights and to struggle together for
what we want to see. First of all we have
to beat back this tide of oppression that
is increasing legally — our case being an
example of the legal apparatus being
put to work to jail activists, stop political
activity. Militarily the next step is to
straight up and kill people as they do at
random now through the police. The CIA
has trained death squads around the
world. We already know they know how
to do that and should not be surprised
when that happens — that's the mood of
People need to come away from read-
ing this article with a clearer understand-
ing of how they're under attack. I hope
our case gives them some insight into
what's happening around the country that
directly affects their lives and into how
they need to take that up where they're
sitting because it's an issue that's crucial
to their lives.
Collette Pean is presently being held as
a high-security risk at Alderson prison in
West Virginia for receiving $1,500 in wel-
fare money under a false ID.
AGAINST SEXISM IN ADVERTISING
A giant outdoor whiskey ad in downtown
Ann Arbor, Michigan features a blond
woman in a low-cut black velvet gown
and an exposed knee, who urges drink-
ers to "feel the velvet."
For four years, the billboard has been
routinely defaced by women who have
spray painted "offensive to women" or
"sexist" over the ad.
This year was slightly different, how-
ever. Two Ann Arbor feminists, both 21
and both University of Michigan stu-
dents, were arrested on March 7th for
allegedly defacing the billboard. Police
arrested them on a felony charge and
put them in jail overnight. The next day
the prosecutor reduced the charge to a
The billboard is an advertisement for
Black Velvet brand Canadian whiskey,
which bills itself as the "smooth Canadi-
an." The ad, mounted on a 14-foot by
48-foot billboard two stories above the
northwest corner of Main and Ann strets,
is floodlighted at night and can be seen
for miles around. On March 7th, un-
known persons painted "Objects Never,
Women Forever", "sexist", and "Women
—RISE!" on the ad.
Mary Emanoil and Jennifer Akfirat,
who have been accused of the crime,
have entered a plea of not guilty and will
go on trial May 23rd in 1 5th District
Court. Both women have been active in
the Ann Arbor feminist community, both
working on the annual Take Back the
Night March, and participating in a Jan-
uary sit-in at the University of Michigan
protesting the university's stance on sex-
ual assault. Mary has been a volunteer
at local battered women's shelters, and
Jennifer is the daughter of prominent local
woman Jane Myers, who is a columnist
for the Ann Arbor News.
Jennifer and Mary have received the
full support of local feminists who imme-
diately mobilized around the issue.
CAROL McCABE has been working on
issues of violence against women for
five years. She lives in Ann Arbor, Ml.
Phones began ringing at 7 a.m. on the
day of their arraignment, resulting in a
large and visible presence in the court-
room. A local group, Women — RISE!
(Women Rebeling in a Sexist Environ-
ment), organized an informational picket
and vigil at the billboard. A defense
committee, called Community Action
Against Sexist Advertising, formed soon
thereafter. Their three goals include: get-
ting rid of the billboard through legal
means; supporting Mary and Jennifer;
and educating the community to draw
the link between sexist advertising and
violence against women and children.
Those wishing to see the billboard re-
moved have emphasized connections be-
tween degrading advertisements and
violence. In relation to the slogan "Feel
the Velvet", local feminist Susan McGee
said: "Our question is: what exactly are
we being asked to feel? We object to,
and will not tolerate, the use of women's
bodies to sell products." "There's no
question in our minds that the sexism,
violence and general disrespect towards
women in advertising and the media is a
contributing factor to rape, battery, and
child sexual abuse," said Carole
McCabe, a former staffer at the local
battered women's shelter.
"As soon as you make women objects
to sell things, they are no longer people.
And it's easier to abuse objects than it is
to abuse people." said David DeVarti,
owner of a local publishing company.
"That's why we don't want this ad."
"I'm in CA 2 SA because I think it's time
men started taking responsibility for
changing the victimization of women."
A good example of the interrelation-
ship between the media and abuse is the
way children have begun to be por-
trayed in film, TV, and advertising. "Chil-
dren are being eroticized by the media,"
said Susan A. Smith, M.S.W, who coun-
sels children who have been sexually
abused. "Seeing children as sex objects
helps perpetrators of sexual abuse ration-
alize their acts and make excuses for
their behavior. An atmosphere is created
where it's okay to see children in a sexual
way. And that's intolerable."
Says Cheryl Stevens, Coodinator of the
Women's Crisis Center in Ann Arbor.
"Let's face it — all women in our country
have been harassed by a man at some
point in their lives. And one out of three
have survived rape or attempted rape,
28% are sexually abused by the age of
14, and one out of two are battered in
an intimate relationship. Ads that use
women are just rubbing salt in our
wounds — they intensify feelings of vic-
timization. The billboard has got to go.
We can't have it in our community."
"The billboard is not long for this
world," said one local feminist who chose
to remain anonymous. "I hope CA 2 SA suc-
ceeds in getting the company to change
the billboard. But if not, it's going to be
spraypainted until they get the idea."
"Women are physically abused in this
culture by such ads. I view destroying
property that celebrates that abuse as
a creative act of self-defense." said
Maureen Fitzsimmons, another local
Central Advertising (who owns the bill-
board) repaired it after the March 7th
incident. But on April 28th, women struck
again, this time writing "Women Insist,
Persist, Resist," replacing the word Vel-
vet in Black Velvet Whiskey with "Slime",
and writing the words "Take Me Down."
Feminists haven't had much response
from the companies responsible for the
billboard. Tom Reir, of Central Advertis-
ing in Jackson, refused to meet with mem-
bers of Women — RISE! who wanted to
present petitions to him. Advertising man
Bill Free, who created the ad, was asked
what he would say to protestors. He re-
sponded, "I try not to talk to the feminists,
being a chauvinist myself." (We never
would have guessed). Heublein spokesper-
son Sandy Beckwith claims she researched
the ad campaign from a feminist stand-
point and found nothing wrong with it.
She insists the ad is not seductive, but
admits that it's designed to appeal to men.
Although Heublein and its recently fired
ad agency, Lawrence, Charles and Tree,
claim that the Feel the Velvet campaign,
I'd like to make it with her. Maybe I'll get her into bed. You didn't. have to work very har
d to get into her pants. I'm going to go out and get. a piece' of ass tonight. I hope I score
tonight. I can wear down her resistance, I'll score. She wouldn't put out. for me. You were
great last night. You could learn a lot from me baby. I could teach her a thing or two.. Bo
v did I make her moan-! I got her so hot. I've never had to pay for pussy. Do you know any
available women? I'd like to have her for a night. She's good snatch.. I'd. like to cop some
as s. -She was the best piece of ass I ever had. What a dish! She's a cute thing. She's a n
■;xy. Let's s
i shoot some s
*s v really a d
i ; like to bang
Seat my meat
■Me knocked h
St his load.
Safe, it with
i;t her into b
g't/have to w
to get into
•ti going to
lfc:a : piece of
I hope I sco
pl>can wear d
. ouldn't put
You were gre
m me, bsby.
did I make h
t her so hot
- had- to pay f
you know any
en? I'd lik
for a night.
atch. I'd 1
me ass. She 1
She's real, fo
ee if we can
og. What a b
s cunt. I'd
her box. I b
er up. He sh
■I'd like to m
her. I'll ge
ed. You didn
ork very hard
her pants. I
go out and ge
own her resis
score. She w
out for me.
at last night,
am a lot fro
I could teach
or two. Boy,
er moan! I go
! I've never
or pussy. Do
e to have her
She's good sn
ike to cop so
s the best piece of ass I ever had. What a dish! She's a cute thing. She's a
She's real foxy. Let's see if we can shoot some squirrel. She's really a dog.
IWhat: a bitch! She's a cunt. I'd like to bang her box. I beat my meat last night. He knock
seiiiher, up. He shot his load. I'd like to. make it with her. Maybe I'll get into her pants.
You didn't have to work very hard to get her into bed. I'm going to go out and get a piece o
ass tonight. I hope I score tonight. If I can wear down her resistance, I'll score. She wo
Penelope Goodfriend, from ROLE MODELS AND REALITIES, color photograph, 1 6" x 30"
was one of our best campaigns, one of
the best of all times," recent sales history
for Black Velvet indicate otherwise. Sales
data presented by Business Week, May
'7,1985 indicate that while the nine larg-
est marketers of Canadian whiskey have
" increased sales by one half of one per-
cent between 1980 and 1984, the sales of
PENNY GOODFRIEND's photographs are
ipgrtof a series, Role Models and Realities,
mspired by a passage in the Talmud: "We
do not see things as they are, we see them
Black Velvet have declined by 1 .2% dur-
ing this same period. This decline is no-
table in that Canadian whiskey is one of
only three categories of liquor that are
gaining in popularity in an otherwise
"Not only is the billboard tasteless,
ugly, sexist and offensive," said CA SA
member Jim Niland, "but it's not selling
whiskey very well."
The furor that arose from the bill-
board arrests is just the tip of the iceberg
as far as feminist activity in Ann Arbor
goes. "There has been a dramatic rise in
social change activities in Ann Arbor in
the past year and half." said U of M
Social Work Professor Beth Glover Reed.
"Particularly in the area of domestic vio-
lence, sexual assault, and child sexual
abuse, there's been a marked shift from
only providing services to survivors to
doing prevention work, systems advocacy,
and direct action." "I think it's excellent,"
said Susan Contratto, clinical psycholo-
gist and Women's Studies instructor. "I
believe the rise in activity has begun to
result in real change in our community.
I'm delighted by it."
Doan Ket, a women's political dance group based in New York
City, was started in 1983. Our name means solidarity in Viet-
namese, and it was chosen from the title of a poem by Meridel
LeSeur written during the Vietnam War.
In 1984 our collective visited Nicaragua as part of a cultural-
solidarity brigade to let the people there know that not every-
one in this country agrees with Reagan's interventionist policies.
We worked with the Sandinista Association of Cultural Workers
and performed in schools, hospitals, day care centers and for
the militia, and we also taught at the National School of Dance.
When a national poll in this country revealed that 72% of
college students preferred Reagan in the presidential elections,
we decided to visit different universities to present a cultural-
educational series. With the collaboration of Kristin Reed, we
gave a slide show on Nicaragua and performed four dance-
theater pieces, followed by a discussion period.
One dance, "Miskito Lawana," choreographed by Susana
Reyes, is based on traditional dances from the Atlantic Coast of
Nicaragua. It portrays the agricultural activities of the indige-
nous Miskito indians. In this celebratory dance of fertility and
abundance, we recreate the rush of the wind and clouds and
the blossoming of the crops. It is said that the Miskitos drama-
tized these elements as they worked the earth.
During our discussions with students, a common question con-
cerned the "atrocities" that the Sandinistas had allegedly com-
mitted against the Miskitos. The Reagan administration had
accused the Sandinistas of trying to impose their language and
culture on the Miskitos and of forcing them off their lands. In
fact, the Miskitos, together with five other ethnic groups on the
Atlantic Coast, have a history and culture different from other
regions in Nicaragua. For centuries they have been kept in com-
plete isolation. It was the idea of the Sandinistas to change this,
but problems inevitably resulted from their cultural differences.
The contras and the Reagan administration took advantage of
this to make a series of false accusations. The Sandinistas them-
selves had admitted making mistakes, but the facts are very
different from what is reported in the news.
"Oh, This Heat," choreographed by Gloria Nazario and
Hallie Wannamaker, is a humorous theatrical piece in which
two women represent the contradictions between American in-
terests in Latin America and the region's political realities. As
the music, "Managua, Nicaragua, What a Wonderful Town,"
plays in the background, the women sit on a beach and chat.
OH, THIS HEAT
Hillary: This weather is just fascinating! The sun goes on and
on and on ... I could be here all day soaking up these beautiful,
tropical Latin rays...
Hillary: This is definitely the place to take our vacations. Well,
with swimming pool, maid service, and color TV, it's just... VIVA
Yiyi: Well. ..I prefer Europe. ..Uummmm, those cool and ro-
mantic nights of Greece, the boat rides at Crete, the Pelopon-
nesus, and those long, tall, thrusting temples of Delphi and
Knossos, that's a whole different world.
Hillary: So, what brings you here?
Yiyi: Oh, the devaluation of the peso of course!
Hillary: Yes, isn't it wonderful that everything is so cheap here!
Why, the other night I bought a steak dinner for only three
dollars, including the ten cent tip for the waiter. And don't you
just love those hand-embroidered blouses? It must take them
hours to make one of those, and we can always buy them for
only two dollars! Of course, I always try to bargain with
those Indian women to get the cheapest price possible ... :
Yiyi: How's Sam?
Hillary: [Getting nervous] Ooooohhhh ...FINE, off on
one of his business trips taking care of our supermar-
kets in Brazil.
Yiyi: [Cynical] In one of those emergency meetings?
Hillary: [Losing control] That's right ... keeping the econ-
omy going ...
[H/7/ary questions Yiyi in a cynical way]
Hillary: How's Rogelio?
Yiyi: [Nervous] Well ...with him you never know. ..one
week he can be at the presidential palace, or at our
home in Miami, or ... up in the mountains [more t
nervous] keeping the guerrillas in line... <*' sS "
Hillary: Darling, it must besodifficultforyou...
Yiyi: ...Well ... in a way, it's exciting ...although
>y Gloria f iorio
photographs by Kristin Reed
1. :••. T"'-!--:..---..- '
Hallie Wannamaker and Gloria Nazario performing "Oh This Heat!" for soldiers at a military training school outside Managua.
[Sifting on a terrace]
Hillary: So, how are things going down there in YOUR
Yiyi: Well, of course there's the war. It's so boring how it
preoccupies all the cocktail party conversations.
Hillary: [Angry at her] But, don't you think that you should take
it more seriously?
Yiyi: It's just those ignorant Indians giving us a few problems;
and besides. ..I told you. ..[she screams] it's ruining my social
Yiyi: So, how are things going in Brazil?
Hillary: OOOOhhhh things are just ...fine [she coughs] ... Of
course prices are a little bit ...HIGH ...but this is just a tempo-
rary... [she falls from the chair] SLUMP!
Yiyi: But I heard that people are invading supermarkets with
sticks, rocks and anything, to get food!
[Getting very nervous]
Hilly: Oh, well it's just those leftist provocateurs. I don't know
what's happening to people's morals these days ...
Yiyi: OH, THIS HEAT!
[They dance together trying to forget about the problems]
Hillary: Oh, this brings me back to all those wonderful
Yiyi: AAAHHH ...the palm trees in Haiti ...
Hillary: The smell of the amapolla in Puerto Rico!
Yiyi: Those handsome waiters in Santo Domingo ...
Hillary: And the cha-cha-cha music in the background in
Both: Too bad that country had to fall into the wrong hands!
[They both fall on the floor]
Yiyi: Well, WE have to be careful that other countries don't fall
into the wrong hands!
Hillary: Yes, Why ... [Whispering to Yiyi] You know what hap-
pened in Nicaragua? I mean, where will we buy our croissants?
Yiyi: Or take our vacations?
[They walk away]
The slide show incorporated the questions and comments of
students with historical information about U.S. intervention in
Central America. The idea was to discuss not only the realities
in Latin American countries, but also to examine the situation in
our own country and the role economics plays in the relation-
ship between the two. As one teacher at Hunter College noted,
"It is not so mysterious that this country is so rich and the other
countries are so poor — one of the reasons why this country is so
rich is because other countries are so poor."
This series was both a challenge for us and an inspiration for
future political work. As cultural workers, we believe it is impor-
tant to reach out to our audience, without mystifying reality or
going around in circles while attempting to explain what is hap-
sue § 1 sSw 1
pening in this country. We feel that, contrary to what we had
been taught in school, art is not an isolated act, but can be a
■powerful educating and organizing force.
- In one of the discussions foHowing a performance, Kristin Reed
explained how sKe arrived at art activism, despite her years in a
traditional art school environment: "The predominant ideology
Iln art school is that art is separate and higher than life itself and
ishould not be confused or connected with politics in any way. If
you did that, it would be propaganda, and propaganda is not
art. It took a long time for me to see that this was manipulation. I
found myself struggling with a lot of issues and asking myself
^questions such as: "Is art necessary? Why are people making
; ; art anyway?"
■: "I started reading and understanding that art has had a func-
tional purpose throughout history. Having visited Nicaragua and
ernment is doing there. My art has changed a lot. I've learned
that studio work is only one side of my artistic experience and
that the other side is to get out of the studio, to collaborate, to
use different media, to work with different people in the
GLORIA NAZARIO is a Puerto Rican who has lived in New York
City since 1979. She is a dancer and a political economist, who
currently works with the Nicaraguan Medical/Material Aid Cam-
Doan Ket Dancers
>Solo performance of Nazario's "El Potro de Chefa" about the struggle of Vieques, P.R., with music by Roy Brown.
What books and/or tradition,
Emma Goldman, Native American Culture, especially Hopi, Paulo Freire, Talking Heads, Bob Marley, Sweet Honey in the Rock,
Dorothy Day, Susan Schechter, older black women who lead, unacknowledged, the Civil Rights movement — like Fannie Lou
Hamer and Daisy Bates, Barbara Deming, Marx, Herbert Marcuse, James Baldwin, my grandmother and my mother, Elaine
Reuben, Joan Roberts, Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth, Willa Cather, Lois Weber,
Dorothy Arzner, Georgia O'Keeffe, Lee Krasner, George Cukor, Mitchell Leisen, Barbara Stanwyck, Ida Lupino, Elizabeth Baker,
Linda Nochlin, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, Gloria Steinem, Katharine Hepburn, May Sarton, Ada Wilcox, I.F. Stone,
Andrew Phillips, Martin Luther King, Jr., Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Jesus, Mary Daly's Beyond Cod the Father, The
Bible,, O'Connor's Call to Commitment, Levine's Who Dies?, Peck's The Road Less Traveled l Alice Walker, Audre Lourde,
Hans Haacke, Helen and Newton Harrison, Daniel Ortega, Joseph Beuys, Ernesto Cardenal's Zero Hour, Roque Dalton's Poems,
Jim Scully's Apollo Helmet, the brave women who fought for the Sandinista revolution, Phyliss Greenacre, Margarete Yourcenar,
Natalie Sarraute, Nancy Grossman, my older sister, Simone de Beauvoifs The Second Sex, Rosalind Coward, Griselda Pollocks,
Jane Gallup, Shoshana Felman, Koja Silverman, Annette Kohn, Dorothy Dinnerstein's The Mermaid and the Minotaur, Judy
Grahn's poem "A Woman is Talking to Death," Trotsky's The History of the Russian Revolution, Lucy Lippard, Charles Frederick,
Juliet Ucelli, Dame Smith, Jim Paul, Margarete von Trotta, Diane Kurys, Lina Wertmuller, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Kate Millett's
Sexual Politics, Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook, Susan Sontag, Monique Wittig, Louise Bourgeois, The Black Book of
Poland, Julie Mimmack, Kathryn Bell, Seneca Peace Camp, Holly Near, Alix Dobkin, Kate Clinton, Sisterhood is Powerful,
Womanspirit Rising, Baez's Daybreak, Shadow on a Tightrope, The Dream of a Common Language, The Color Purple,
Nice Jewish Girls, Judaism, Quakerism, civil disobedience, The Communist Manifesto, George Orwell, Redstocking's tradition,
Susan B. Anthony, Lenin, Mao, Patricia Due, people of Nicaragua and the FSLN, Faith Wilding, Neda Al-Hilali and Nancy Buchanan,
Ursula LeGuin, my mother once I was old enough to see her strength, Segal's America 's Receding Future, Kurt Vonnegut,
Maya Angelou, TheNation, Candida Flores, Alice Carse, Berryman's What's Wrongin Central America, Ohland's National
Revolution and Indigenous Identity, Herrera's biography of Frida Kahlo, Bradley's The Mists ofAvalon, Jerry Keams, Eva
Cockroft, Thomas Merton, Art Against Apartheid, Artists for Nuclear Disarmament, The Catholic Worker, The Progressive,
Sojourners, Upfront, Heresies, The Other Side, Strong's / Change Worlds, Woolfs A Room of One's Own, Marge Piercy's
Living in the Open and To Be of Use, Langston Hughes, Barbara Morgan, Helen Levitt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Miriam Shapiro,
Bread and Puppet Theater, Ben Shawn, contemporary women street artists, my uncle Bill, Albert Schweitzer, Clarence Darrow,
Lillian Hellman, Ted Williams, Pete Seeger, Mother Jones, Truman Warner, Agnes Smedley, American Indian writers such as
John Lame Deer, Berger's Ways of Seeing, Macy's Despair and Personal Power in the Nuclear Age, Highwater's The Primal
Mind, Gablik's Has Modernism Failed, H.G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, Doris Lessing, Anne Herbert, Berman's The Reenchantment
of the World, MaryBeth Edelson, Griselda Pollocks, Joni Mitchell, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Radical Teacher, Whole Earth Review,
the tradition of artist as shaman, healer, visionary and provocateur, guerilla cultural traditions, Women 's Art Journal, May Stevens,
Nancy Azara, Irene Peslikis, Jerri Allyn, Holly Zox, Sari Dienes, Alice Neel, Dorothy Gillespie, Nora Estorga, Angela Davis,
Winnie Mandela, Martin Buber, Vanessa Redgrave, Charlotte Branch, Ernesto Cardenal, Lucretia Mott, Barbara Jordan, Grimke
sisters, Hannah Arendt, Ronnie Gilbert, my father, Rev. Carl Flemister, Rina Davila, Hermes Castro, Columbia Brava, the American
co-operative movement and the left populist movement, Mitchell's Psycholanalysis and Feminism, Lincoln's Vice Presiden t
in Charge of Revolution, Dorothy Oliver, my daughters and other young women, Liz McAlister, Phil Berrigan, Helen Keller,
Sigrid Undset, Gilligan's/n a Different Voice, Iglehart's Womanspirit, Mae Chee CostiRo, Johnny Get Your Gun, Golda Meir,
Dorthea Lange, Pablo Neruda, Lorca,' Laurie Anderson, Gertrude Stein, Robert Frank, Susan Meiselas, Suzanne Lacey, Freire's
Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth, Galeano's The Open Veins of Latin America, Trotsky's
Literature and Revolution, Miguel Hernandez, Rafael Albert, poets of the Spanish Civil War, Griffin's Pornography and Silence,
Lorde's Zand, Rich's On Lies, Secrets and Silence, Buber's / and Thou, Moraga and Anzuldua's This Bridge Called My Back,
Harrison's Making the Connections, Our Right to Choose, Bonhoeffef s Letters and Papers from Prison, Davis' Race, Class,
Sex, Morgan's Lady of the Beasts, Paton's Cry the Beloved Country, Tutu's Crying in the Wilderness, MacMurray's Persons
in Relation, Naylor's Women of Brewster Street, Cardenal's Flights of Victory, Fromm's essay on Marx, Shiela Rowbotham,
Vence's Pleasure and Danger, Nancy Spero, Kathe Kollwitz, Greenpeace, Greenham Common, Alice Doesn't, Marxism,
especially as used by Janeson and Eagleton, Eva Hesse, Flo Kennedy, Elsa Gidlow, Lily Tomlin, Shiley Chisholm, Dorothy Wachter,
Victoria WoodhulL Josephine Butler, Rosen's Lost Sisterhood, Firestone's Dialectics of Sex, Greer's Female Eunuch, Walkowitz's
Prostitutes in the Victorian Era, Tom Robbins, Ghandi, Thomas' Man's Relationship with Nature, Griffin's Women and
Nature, Stone's When God Was a Woman, Marilyn Ferguson, women who have lived their lives without the approval of men.
A COMMUNITY OF THE PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY CHALLENGED
"When I think of speaking out I do not hear my own
voice, but theirs. Or ours, mine and theirs together"
In large measure, my photographs have
been about the struggle to speak out in
a voice that will be recognized, literally
and figuratively. I am interested in photo-
graphing small communities. Within them,
there seems to be collective as well as
individual empowerment that bonds its
members together, draws in new ones,
and serves as an example to a larger,
outside group of people.
On Martha's Vineyard there is a unique
community called Jabberwocky, that has
convened every summer for 35 years.
Originally started for children with cere-
bral palsy, it evolved to encompass a
diverse group of the physically and men-
tally "challenged," as well as people who
wanted to work with them. In my time
there, I have come to see that their strug-
gle is like my own: To come to terms
with my own inner woundedness. I found
a community that would accept me be-
cause its members had learned to accept
themselves. When my preconceptions
and my "awe" of them faded, I could
experience intimately the communal na-
ture of the group, a nature characterized
by an interdependence that promotes
independence. And I began to be able to
translate my understanding into visual
Elain Christensen, A LETTER FROM JUDI (detail), 1983, b/w photos, 60" x 84"
ELAIN CHRISTENSEN is a photographer
and a member of the community of
Hoboken, New Jersey.
Copies of the 1986 calendar are still avail-
able for $2, plus $1 postage. To order a
calendar or get on the mailing list for the
1987 calendar, drop a note to:
113 Washington St.
Hoboken, N.J. 07030
Clarissa T. Sligh, UNTITLED, b/w photo, 8" x 10"
CLARISSA T. SLIGH works from a broad range of experiences;
life in NY and work on Wall Street sent her back to her rural South-
ern roots for images that are increasingly politicized.
A ONE CHARACTER PLAY
BY CLARE COSS
on Henry Street
|". ,. i
Lillian Wald, founder of the Henry Street Settlement House, has a
charismatic peruasive quality. She is strong-willed but tender. Her
charm radiates a warmth that could embrace the whole world.
She is wearing a dusty-rose silk kimono and pearl gray leather
slippers. The kimono was a gift from the Kyoto Peace Society.
SETTING Lillian Wald's sitting room/office
The Henry Street Settlement House
[LILLIAN WALD steals into her office, softly closing the door
RISE AND SHINE to get a jump on time! Sleep is an inter-
ruption. I manage four hours sleep a night, and play tricks
with the clock to fit thirty-six hours into each day. Except
once when my friends insisted: "Lillian Wald, we are taking you
" to Italy for a nap."
[SHE fears off the day's calendar from a pad on her desk. Reads.}
May 8, 1916. Agenda.
Five AM — Answer Mr. Schiff
— Other correspondence
Six — Depart train station; peace petitions
Seven — The Washington Express
One PM— The White House
Where I am to convince President Wilson to keep the U.S.
neutral and out of Europe's war. How did I get myself into this
one? I know the delegation has infinite faith in my powers of
persuasion — but really, Lillian.
All the ladies of the Henry Street Settlement House are sound
"' asleep. No one even stirred as I tiptoed through each room. I
wanted to hear a whisper, "Lillian, what's wrong?" I lay awake
- all night, my mind caught, — pacing back and forth, back and
forth — caged in by the words in Mr. Schiff's letter "Caution.
Caution, my dear Lillian. The country has turned towards war.
By going to Washington you endanger everything you have
• worked to build these past twenty-three years."
' Docky and I had words last night. I'm glad she didn't wake
. up just now when I pulled back her goose down comforter. So
" she could BREATHE. The first warm spring night Docky and I
- move cots out onto the back upstairs porch overlooking Bunker
Hill. That's the children's name for America's first playground.
We sleep outside every night until mid-October. Like firemen.
' - Always at the ready to jump up and out on emergency calls.
Tante Helene is the one person I can count on to be up early.
''. Each night she checks the Farmers Almanac, sets her mental
alarm clock, and pops up at the exact minute of the sunrise to
CLARE COSS is a writer, psychotherapist, and activist. Her plays
■ . We been presented at the Interart Theatre, Theater for the New
. City, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Soho Rep, and many others.
move her way through a short Tai Chi exercise she learned dur-
ing our stay in China. Tante Helene helped us create Bunker
Hill. She bought the house behind so we could openly combine
backyards. She is what we call here a member of the laity. Not
a nurse, but an honorary member of the sisterhood. Before Bunk-
er Hill the children's only play spaces were the streets — dan-
gerous, littered, foul-smelling streets. The first years our play-
ground was thronged with lines waiting to get in. A schedule
was designed. Baby hammocks and young mothers in the
mornings; swings or scups as the children call them in the after-
noons; and evening parties under Japanese lanterns for adults.
A young neighborhood man said as he wove the lucious old
wisteria vine onto the trellis, "Miss Wald, this must be like the
scenes of country life in English novels." The wisteria has climbed
clear up to our pillared sleeping porch.
Docky and I had words last night. I can still not go to Wash-
ington. Mr. Schiff is right to question how my principles will ef-
fect the future of the Henry Street Settlement House.
The moment my meeting with President Wilson hits tomorrow
morning's front page, the phone will ring. The door knocker will
pound. Irate sponsors will hurl their accusations: "Unpatriotic,
Miss Wald! In good conscience we must withdraw our support
from the Settlement! Stay out of politics and keep to nursing.
War is good for the economy."
WAR. ALL THE SUFFERING from war. I feel it in every
fiber of my body, down to my very toes. I am a nurse!
Pledged to save lives. Madness. Why can't people
see the connection between war and poverty. We want to pro-
vide each child under the age of five with a medical exam and
nursing care. As a right. Imagination. My favorite word in the
English language. President Wilson, use your imagination.
Cold, charming, imperious Woodrow Wilson. "Miss Wald, I
agree the world has gone mad. But I give you my promise to
keep us out of war. Preparedness. All I ask for is military pre-
paredness. My mind is still to let."
If he dares to use that expression on me again, do I dare ask
him, 'Who's the highest bidder for your mind? The munition mak-
ers and all the politicians in their pockets, or the thousands of
citizens who beseech you to lead the world away from war.'
"He Kept Us Out of War. He Kept Us Out of War." His cam-
"Miss Wald, please, endorse my drive for re-election. Your
friend Jane Addams hopped on our bandwagon."
"Hold out, Jane Addams. He's leaning hard on Congress for
the National Defense Act, giving the military carte blanche."
Jane said, "Lillian, I'll swallow two new battleships and no
How betrayed she must fee,. Lost week the Act possed With
the flick of a pen, military training in our schools. y
struggle to place nurses in ! each schoo . ^ q ^
When I first saw Louis ^^fT^* ^ sc P hoo |? His mother,
tenement flatj thought why .sntthatboynsch
with a baby in her arms, stood ove a ub was g ^ ^
aprons. She told me the school olhaals ear
classroom since first grade because of h.s sea J; P
Louis felt embarrassed and humiliated toe* I hecou dn
the names of streets on lamp posts J «« d s £ ^
was only a mild fungus ; disease , hat a * ^^
no time. Louis was ecstatic. Back in sa m
how to read and catch up on ^^^^^ suffer-
And I quickly learned that when you see an n fo
ing, you help that person ou o ^ P oL 1^ ^ motion fQ
remove the cause. Louis Ritkin tirsr se. y
place a nurse in each school. President, with
War. Why not a Department ot Peace,
well-paid full-time employees. No
Too emotional. I must dram myself ° ^™ 0n , facts .
their eyes from the ^t^Z^Z halls across
"Miss Wald, show me the peace support, n
the country. Collect signatures. Testimony col-
Here President Wilson. Sheaves ,of Jfl^^.,^
lected by the AUAM, the American Unio WNgai wa$
founded right here in ^^^SA^yAho
declared in Europe, August 7, 1914. We to g
six-foot dinosaur to illustrate what happen swne y
too heavily armed ^J^^'Sg Voice Against
Oh, tomorrows headlines. JT dsofwomen marched
Preparedness!" Just two Y^rs ago tho^d so ^
down Fifth Avenue for peace! Tho " ^f^ lead Europe to
country joined in a massive call for The U.^ o £ Nq
the conference table. Peace wrttou vidory A st mg P
more war to end all wars. Mr. Schff says sucn c p
today would be considered a seditious acL Treason.
He is right. The county has swung towards war.
DOCKY AND I had words last night. I had asked what she
throuqh them." , t ,l„ VO f e i What is
a diminutive female i nn olodize Please turn around.
"I'm sorry, Docky. Suffragist. 1st. I apolog za ne
Lavinia Dock. Scholar, pian.st, nurse extraordinaire.
"My teacher—" , j ower destroy
"You refuse to learn, Lillian, ^^ d J cated our | iv es
every social, every progressive reform we ve dedicaie
'""Docky what good will women's votes do if we let this coun-
try beUe militated. >^.^^vifan« have
"Wilson is not going to listen to you ui ^
to have equal political power. So we can sa
th ''And where is your guarantee that most women won't vote
along with their husbands?"
"Oh, dear Lady Light, I would rather be sitting on my front
porch in the hills of Pennsylvania — where my greatest concern
is that the cat slapped PeeWee over the ear and scratched his
eyes, and the tomatoes ripen so fast no one can eat them up."
"Dear friend, chain yourself to the White House gates, and
you will end arrested and in that medieval Virginia prison again.
At your age. Sixty! You will lead another hunger strike. They will
brutally force feed you. Ram a tube down your nose."
"And on your visit, I will raise myself up and confide, 'My
dear Lillian, the only salvation for politics is for women to get
The cat slapped PeeWee over the ear —
I can still see Docky, Election Day 1896, her short roly poly
body stalking furiously through the front door. A votes-for-women
banner emblazoned across her jacket and pinned to her straw
hat. "We stormed the polling booth around the corner and cast
our votes. Lillian, the police arrested every voting suffragist and
threw them into jail, except me!" Up the stairs, stomp, stomp,
stomp, and slam. This is the House of Perpetual Doors Slam-
ming. Captain Handy came by, repentant, hat in hand. "Miss
Wald, please don't be mad at me. I couldn't arrest the little doc.
I just couldn't do it. She nursed my son back to health herself. I
had to carry her kicking from the paddy wagon steps."
The most extraordinary nurse I know is ready to risk her life
for votes for women. She is so valuable — alive. Can I ever put
my life on the line when my existence is so connected to the life
of the community? Docky says I've defied death from my first
day down here — exposed to disease, riots, exhaustion — . I guess
I am risking my life right now if I go to Washington — risk losing
my home, my sustenance — this center that has brought light into
so many lives — especially my own.
Lavinia Dock, you have been my mainstay for over twenty
years. How we propel each other on against the greatest odds —
fire each other's will to continue in spite of our disagreements.
Jane Addams, you would advise me to go to Washington.
Miss Addams and I were up all night on her return from Eu-
rope's front. Count on her for surprises. I love surprises. "Lillian,
let's bake bread. Tolstoy told me when I met him many, many
years ago, 'Miss Addams, you must bake bread. All women
must bake bread.' I've never had the time." Neither had I. We
stole down to the kitchen in the wee hours and talked and
kneaded and rolled out the dough. We hardly noticed the two
hours it took to rise. As we buttered the first warm bite, Jane
announced, "Lillian, Tolstoy was wrong. All women do not have
to bake bread."
OH HOW MUCH YOUNGER and more simple the
world seemed before August 7, 1914. Before Europe
burst into flames! So much optimism — peace and Uto-
pian societies, the progressive movement Henry Street helped
to build. We genuinely believed the moral forces of people had
reached beyond war.
Now newspapers are saturated with pictures from all across
Europe. Women and children stand in doorways, at train sta-
tions, with white handkerchiefs, waving their men off to be slaugh-
tered. Nurses smile next to their field ambulances. Sew them up
and send them back for more. It's up to women to remove the
glamor from war.
At least the President HAS agreed to this afternoon's meeting
with the press present. Teddy Roosevelt always invited me to
stay on for dinner at the White House. But tonight the President
a nd his family have tickets for the circus! We do have four solid
hours. Will he betray us and turn it into a press conference for
preparedness? No. He's given us the entire afternoon. It WILL
be more productive than a dinner.
The impossible. Tante Helene said, "Lillian Wald, you have
never been stopped by the impossible. Think of when you first
plunged into this noisy bustling immigrant neighborhood."
Bumped and shoved by pushcart vendors hawking overripe
fruits and vegetables, I must have been the most naive person
south of Houston Street. A million and a half human beings
crammed into overflowing, dilapidated, unheated tenements in
a twenty block radius the size of a small Kansas farm. I remem-
ber thinking, if only the people in power knew what it is like here,
;such horrors would cease to exist! Naive.
.: '. Twenty-three years since my baptism by fire.
I saw a small timid face peer around the classroom door
"while I taught a home nursing course. I beckoned the frightened
.■; girl in and she tugged on my skirt. "My mother. My mother,
i Baby Blood. Come, please. My mother, here. You come. Please."
She tugged on my skirt.
ift' I gathered up the sheets of the bedmaking lesson in my hand
■and she led me through a steady rain, over muddied, manured
^Streets — . I thought, asphalt, asphalt, why no asphalt — its use
was well-established uptown—. Down Hester and Division we
went, to the end of Ludlow. Across a foul courtyard, we groped
our way up a pitch dark rickety stairwell. The sudden shock of a
tiny hand on the railing came too late — I tripped over a child
and we tumbled to the landing. I never overcame the fear of
trampling a child in the hallways. I hoped for a sound to warn
- me where to tread. How long we fought for landlords to light
■'.' There inside her door a mother and baby lay on a wretched
unclean bed, soaked with two days of hemorrhaging. I recog-
- nized the woman. She had enrolled in my course, hoping to
qualify for nurse's training. Like most of her classmates, she did
not speak English and had no access to the most rudimentary
sources of sanitation. The depression of '93. Her husband could
v not find work. He spoke no English and had been unable to
- enlist help.
They were a family of seven living in two cramped rooms,
- plus boarders. Planks of timber lined the floors, rented out for a
few pennies a night. Boarders! I had never seen such a sight as
. the sadness of that poor home and the sweetness of love that
'' was there.
There wasn't anything else to do. I rolled up my sleeves and
sent the older children down to the courtyard pump to relay
buckets of water. First the newborn baby was washed and clothed
" warmly. Then I cleaned the woman, ministered to the other chil-
dren, scrubbed the floor, made the bed with the fresh linens I
'.-. had brought, sent the father out with enough to buy food staples
" and assured them, "I will return." Their gratitude overwhelmed
me. I could hardly extricate myself from their embraces.
For half an hour I roamed, dazed, through the streets, haunted
' ■ by this impoverished, uprooted humanity, forced to survive against
"the most cruel odds.
i walked. I walked and walked. Suddenly I felt a touch on my
* forehead. Here was how a nurse could work independent of
'he medical establishment. I was earning my M.D. So was Mary
' Brewster at the Women's Medical College. Why? Not because
„ nursing duty required twelve hour days, caring for patients, pol-
ls hing brasses, cleaning wards, and washing dishes. No, we
wanted our own M.D.'s because of how badly the doctors treated
the nurses. As their handmaidens. I am not anyone's handmaiden.
One doctor even had the nerve to chide, "Nurse Wald, you
have encouraged this patient to laugh before I ordered you to
He was serious.
UT NOW I REJOICED. I would not have to bear the
years of dissecting frogs and leaning over microscopes
that lay between me and my medical degree. Right here,
the voices in this teeming neighborhood desperately cried out
for our direct and immediate nursing skills. I could not defend
myself as part of a society that looks the other way — that per-
mits such conditions to dominate.
I called on the sponsor of the home nursing course, Mrs. Betty
Loeb, at her 38th Street brownstone. Her son-in-law, Mr. Jacob
Schiff, was present. I tried to touch their hearts, flood them with
my earnest appeal. "Have you seen the small boy, his face flushed
with chicken pox, sitting on a low stool, stitching knee pants?
The little girl in advanced stages of TB, moistening cigarette
papers with her lips? The woman putting up covered pots of
boiling water every Friday evening because she is too proud to
b/w photographic con-
struction, 14" x 88"
let her neighbors know there is nothing to eat — as she lights the
shabbus candles? The man on the curb, standing by his family's
possessions thrown to the street, an eviction notice tacked to his
door — children scarred by rat bites. The pride— the struggle for
dignity — the mean deceit played on these new arrivals to Amer-
ica with their visions of open farmland, green fields, and factory
Jacob Schiff and Betty Loeb agreed to pay Lillian Wald and
Mary Brewster one hundred and twenty dollars a month to cover
nursing supplies and living expenses in a fifth floor walk-up.
Our only requirement, the convenience of a bathroom. Rumor
was there were only two south of Houston Street. To detach
ourselves from the stigma of charity and the missionaries, we
charged ten to twenty-five cents for a home visit. Those who
could not afford to pay were able to accept our services as a
At first the neighborhood boys mistook us for missionaries.
We were bombarded with decaying vegetables. But soon we
had the culprits organized into the Nurse's Settlement soccer
club. Little Ernie Brofsky's tearful plea: "Miss Wald, Teacher, the
other teams tease and taunt us with 'Noices! Noices!' Please,
please, please change the name from Noices!" Ernie's humilia-
tion was too much for me. From then on we were known as the
Henry Street Settlement House. Mr. Schiff, my friend of friends,
taught me how to raise money. "Style your requests for money
to fit the moods and persuasions of potential supporters. Re-
member their birthdays and anniversaries." He bought us this
beautiful Georgian house — 265 Henry Street. Built in the 1830's
when lower Manhattan was fashionable. Our reputation spread
quickly. "Go see the two young ladies who will listen!"
Now we have seven houses; plus one on Seventy-ninth Street
for the Visiting Nurse Service; plus one on Sixtieth Street staffed
by Negro nurses; seven vacation homes in the country; three
storefronts for milk stations and clinics; ninety-two nurses who
for a long long time. You approved when the AUAM helped to
avert a war with Mexico. We can do the same with Europe. We
can try. I will remind the President how we set up peace talks
between the U.S. and Mexico — taking place in El Paso this very
minute. In spite of the militarists jumping up and down for us to
invade Mexico. In spite of paying Nicaragua three million dol-
lars for a naval base from which to attack Mexico. In spite of
General Pershing and his troops crossing Mexico's border on
the pretext of chasing bandits. Using two Negro cavalry reqi-
ments to draw fire— the NAACP made that fact public.
How can we make the people in Washington care how war
and hatred and prejudice go hand in hand?
UST A FEW SHORT YEARS AGO Henry Street's Community
Hall was the only location in the entire city where colored
people and white people could sit down and meet together.
I suggested a dinner party at the house following the meeting.
But the formal, meticulous Dr. Du Bois said, "Impossible, Miss
Wald. If reporters found out the two races sat down to dinner
the papers would attack us all for promoting miscegenation.
The new NAACP would be ignored." "Dr. Du Bois. two hun-
'&h6m n-r-Jft r^ht
;iils, .uid their devntum
I. ,■....„!. I .~,.t - .
make over 200,000 home visits a year; three thousand club mem-
bers; countless students in our classes. And the Neighborhood
Playhouse. The most exciting, innovative theatre in the city bring-
ing culture and beauty to the long denied.
Yes, Mr. Schiff, your predictions were right. I now spend half
my time raising money. You know I want Henry Street to serve
as a model for what the federal government could do for its
citizens. But the campfires of war burn in President Wilson's
eyes. Peace and negotiation come to be unpatriotic. Mr. Schiff,
you have supported me from the very beginning. Will you con-
tinue to support me if I do go to Washington today?
5:35 AM. The train won't wait.
Mr. Schiff, this is a moment in history that may not come again
dred members of the conference cannot sit down — our house is
too small. Everyone will have to stand for a buffet supper." That
party was a great success. The NAACP was well launched. Dr.
Du Bois was very pleased.
The lesson I learned on a house call to a Negro youngster,
Bill Lattimore. A little neighbor friend pointed to me and whis-
pered, "Bill, is she your grandma?" His clear unwounded eyes
saw only my years, not my "white" skin. I lifted up that little
brown boy with such ahug.lt had an effect on me for the rest ot
At what age does the vision harden for white children
— hardened, so hardened Congress can't even get an anti-lyncn
5:40. Why am I not dressed by now? I'm terrified to go.
Terrified not to go. I have never missed a train. Will this be
another Lillian D. Wald first? "No, no," I said to the delegation.
"Don't bother to pick me up. I'll take the streetcar. It will be
quicker. I enjoy public transportation. I fought for it and I'll use
Kitt wanted to give the house a brand new shiney automobile.
The idea. No indeed. Not that kind of extravagance as long as I
can hop on and off a streetcar.
[SHE reaches for the phone. Pulls her hand away.]
Oh, Mabel Hyde Kittredge, how I long to bear my soul — my
doubts. I know what you would say.
"Lil, you fool everyone into forgetting you're mortal. Don't
fool yourself. All you can do is make your best case to Wilson.
Courage is as infectious as fear."
But do I have a right to jeopardize the settlement?
[SHE unties a packet of letters tied with a ribbon and reads
from a series of ear-marked pages.]
"Come on out to Monmouth. The big restless, restful ocean is
would approve of — "
"I would very much like to meet you on a desert island or a
farm where the people cease from coming and the weary are
at rest — will the day ever come? Or are those long, lazy drives,
the quiet and yellow trees, only a lost dream? And yet you love
me — the plant on my table tells me so. The new coffee tray tells
me so. ..and a look that I see in your eyes makes me sure... I can
feel your arms around me as you say I really must go."
"There are times when to know that Tante Helene is standing
behind one curtain, Sister Ysabella behind another, and an end-
less lot of people forever pressing the door or presenting you
with unsigned papers makes me lack that perfect sympathy with
'work for others' as exemplified by the settlement."
Kitt, if only you hadn't tried to ease me away from my work
here — . "For your health, Lil. For your own good. Jane Addams
and Mary Rozet Smith have shared their lives for over twenty
years." Kitt. Jane Addams and Mary Rozet Smith share a vision.
rolling to my door. Even you must want the ocean at times in-
stead of Henry Street."
Mabel Hyde Kittredge, how tempting — .
[Picks up another letter from the packet]
'Just because you despair over the war — just because you mo-
mentarily lose your confidence — I never think you are weak
because you dared to be human. Why dear I knew that you
gwere human before Thursday night — "
, I haven't got to give you entirely to humanity. I am human, too,
Q nd tonight I'd keep you up until — well later than Tante Helene
They bring out the best in each other. That's my definition of
love. Someone who brings out the best in you.
ENRY STREET is my love. In all the world there isn't
any group with more sparkle, more ability to abandon
themselves to genuine good times than the people who
are not absorbed in their small cosmos. At yesterday's break-
fast Florence, Annie, Ysabella, Helene, Docky, Mary, everyone
passed my green felt hat around the table. Each woman tossed
in a piece of paper. They truly had me foxed. I couldn't imagine
what they were up to with the mysterious ceremony. Florence
Kelley declared, "An offering for 'That Damned Nurse Trouble-
maker on the Lower East Side.'" A name Boss Tweed first gave
■ --" ' ^
me during the women's riots for cheaper milk and meat prices.
Each woman had researched out three prospective backers to
help me make up for the loss that will hit Henry Street if I go to
Washington. There are good surprises on this list. The dears.
They rally round even though they don't all agree with my anti-
militarist position. Florence said, "Dear Lady, if anyone can,
you can convince the people on this list what a privilege it is to
give to Henry Street. Remember how the governor introduced
you in Albany — 'She Who Must Be Obeyed.'"
Tante Helene fussing all the while — "We're worried about
you. Stop overdoing. Don't drive yourself until you drop again.
You keep us on an even keel."
I must keep going for two months. At least until July. Then to
the country and drop if I must. The torture chamber of losing
sponsors. Now Leonard Lewisohn is wavering in favor of the
war. I can't believe he would walk out on me. He is a true friend
to Henry Street. It was a blessed day when he brought his grown
daughters down after their mama died. "Dear Lady, my girls
are so grieved, please may they work with you for awhile. Teach
piano or voice, a dance class or two." Alice and Irene. Alirene I
call them. I have my crushes, but I became their big crush.
artist currently living
in New York City.
"We each want to earn our L.D.W. degree." "Leading Lady,
we are renouncing marriage to dedicate our lives to the wel-
fare of the East Side immigrants and to our greatest love, the
Who would have thought their magnificent street festivals with
casts of thousands would lead to our beautiful Neighborhood
Playhouse on Grand Street.
Lily Lubell, our big darling at the Playhouse, was brought to us
by her older brother to perform in the first Street festival in 1912.
Lily instantly captured my heart with her first role high up on a
ladder as a daisy in the "Three Impressions of Spring." She
played a daffodil after that. And has become a featured
Everything we do here creates controversy. We lost two con-
ventionally minded sponsors with our first production. "The danc-
er's feet were bare! Bare!" I explained, "Irene Lewisohn studied
with the great Kongo Son when we were in Tokyo. It was a rare
honor, breaking a taboo of tradition that the Noh Theatre is for
men only." "Miss Wald, this is civilized America and bare feet
are lewd!" Watching Irene's measured, balanced steps with the
grave old priest is a moment of eternal beauty in my mind. The
stylish uptown crowd enjoys making our theatre a stop on their
evening excursions. They pass through Chinatown to the great-
est sight of all: "the ghetto." The number of Rolls Royces and
Bentleys outside the theatre on a Saturday night! We're sold out
for every event. Uptowners can only be assured of tickets if they
are sponsors. Maude Adams, Ethel Barrymore, Ellen Terry, Jacob
Ben-Ami, our own dear Lily Lubell, and Blanche Talmud, Paula
Treuman, and the Indian poet Tagore with his long white flow-
ing beard. One child asked if he was God. I said, "No, but
they're good friends." Actors seek something here the white
lights of Broadway cannot offer them. A depth of feeling — an
Whenever I step foot in the play house my dear brother Al-
fred flashes before my mind. Alfred and Julia and I performed
hundreds of plays on the little backyard stage mama had built.
Alfred. I am forty-nine. You were twenty-five when you
drowned. I was eighteen. You would be fifty-six. Alfred was one
life. One single life. One precious life lost. One.
And at this very moment, old generals are ordering young
men to commit mass murder. Legally. With Russian, French, and
English lads on one side of the firing line — and German, Aus
trian, and Turks on the other. They are given the right to hate.
Hatred fairly paralyzes me.
SIDES. SIDES. Taking sides. And the sides are always
changing. Whose side are you on? Mr. Schiff has refused
a loan to Britain and France because it would be shared
equally with Russia. And Mr. Schiff will not aid Russia. In 1909 he
personally went down to Teddy Roosevelt to demand our gov-
ernment protest the massacre of Jews in Odessa. Now Mr. Schiff
is being vilified in the papers here and all over Europe for being
pro-German. His entire law firm has been censored and smeared
by the press. He even submitted his resignation because his col-
leagues feel differently about the loan. But of course they refuse
his offer to step down.
I was once and only once the recipient of the famous Schiff
temper. He filled up my doorframe with his tall presence, eyes
icey blue, shaking a holly wreath from off the front door. "Dear
Lady, nativity scenes, St. Nicholas, and a holy night angel atop
your Christmas tree are tempting Jewish children away from
their faith at an impressionable age!"
I felt as if I had been struck! Pointing to the menorahs in the
windows I countered, "Mr. Schiff, this is a non-sectarian house. I
never lead Jewish children away from their faith. Like you, I
believe in assimilation in language and dress — religion is a per-
sonal matter. As a member of the Ethical Culture Society, I \
nothing but respect for your devotion to the Temple Emanu-EI.'
I immediately had the Christmas decorations removed. "Lil-
lian, Lillian, stop. I only object to them at Jewish children's gath-
erings." "That is not feasible," I countered.
"You know as well as I do that we are an integrated house.
"Please, Lillian, do not deprive your gentile co-workers from
the pleasure of a festival that is peculiar to them." It was years
before I recovered from the anger — the insult. Years before there
was another Christmas tree here at the house. Unmerited cen-
sure wounds me deeply.
••"* ■ -1
■ '.' ■}'
Mr. Schiff, you urge me not to go to Washington. You've cau-
tioned me before: "Remember the stalwart sponsors lost when
you supported the Lawrence millworkers. The funds withdrawn
j^hen you helped organize the cloakmakers union. The angry
criticism when you refused to come out against votes for women.
I'm only thinking of your health, dear lady. Your appeals for
peace will draw fire on Henry Street."
[Begins to write]
"Dear Mr. Schiff, you are one of this country's most generous
philanthropists and patriots. I am so sorry, my friend of friends,
that the papers continue their vicious attack over your denied
loan to Britain and France because it includes Russia. I, with
you encourage a Russian revolution that will remove the tyr-
anny of the Cossacks forever. We are all hopeful that Russia
can fulfill this dream of freedom— of one nation to be truly run
by and serve its hard working people. What a beacon of hope
^that would become on this earth. Time will tell. Time will tell.
J Last night at Narcissa Vanderlip's dinner party — her sister,
;Sunset, lives up the Yangtse in China — your unswerving ideals
' emboldened me throughout the evening.
'!> A group of Wall Street and business magnates cornered me
-at cocktails. The men always rush to engage me in controver-
sial debate. 'Miss Wald, we want you on the pro-war band-
wagon. You are losing your reputation for wisely considered,
constructive, sane thinking.' They were that blunt, even though it
was a party.
When we sat down to dinner the gentleman on my left launched
in, convinced of my error. 'Miss Wald, conscription would be
good because the working men do not know how to obey in
this country. It would teach them their place and the necessity of
, doing what they are told.' It was all I could do to keep my
Moselle from splashing his walrus moustache. I said, 'To be
docile and obey when you are underpaid for someone else's
profit would indicate a disturbing level of stupidity.' Forks stopped
in mid-air. 'Fortunately our unique system of education teaches
■ people to think and act for themselves.' Conversation stopped
• in mid-sentence. 'We have to make war obsolete.' 'Miss Wald,'
he forced a merry chortle, 'War will always be with us.' Our
- hostess coughed, warning me off, but it had gone too far. 'I
:. disagree. That is what they said about slavery and it took cou-
- rageous women and men, Negroes and a thimbleful of our own
race, to risk their lives to end the evil practice.' The room stopped
Narcissa quickly introduced the subject of Enrico Caruso's
" [To herself]
- There are members of society who would not be found dead
\ at a play. They prefer to sit on their red velvet thrones in their gilt
boxes at the Met. The formality and predictability of grand opera
- makes it safely reliable. Nothing unexpected or "vulgar" — hav-
ing to do with social issues. Whereas one can never be sure
y; what one will encounter at a play. To walk out of a play changed
' — that is the essence of the art.
- [Bad to the letter]
"Mr. Schiff, at least part of my well-earned reputation is still in
" place: 'It costs five thousand dollars to sit next to That Damned
Nurse Troublemaker at dinner.' In the time between the aspic-
truffled pate and the poached pears chantilly, the gentleman on
" my left and the lady on my right accepted the privilege and
- Opportunity to help those served by the Visiting Nurse Service.
r "hey agreed a poor patient has as much right as a wealthy
patient to call a nurse. For five years they will each contribute
annual salaries for two nurses! But yes, the comfortable people
are jittery and try to turn away from all but the Nurse Service."
Why should I have to limit my vision? Blind myself to injustice
in order to exist. People must be able to choose a world based
[Looking down, ouf of the window, startled.]
Sunrise. Tante Helene moves steadily through her Tai Chi.
Always steady. Steady on her course. Still time to dress and
catch the streetcar!
JANE ADDAMS is called the most dangerous woman in
America. She is even labelled a traitor for reporting the
facts from Europe's front. Young wounded lads, lying in
helpless pain, waiting too long for the field ambulance, called
out constantly for their mothers, beseeched their mothers for
help. Delirious soldiers again and again possessed by the same
hallucination — the act of pulling their bayonets out of the bodies
of the men they have killed. One soldier grasped her hand, "Tell
them a bayonet charge does not show courage, but madness.
We are fed stimulants to charge forward like insane men. Can-
not the women stop this war?" Jane Addams receives threats on
her life for reporting these facts. Except from soldiers who have
been in bayonet charges — they thank her with tear-stained letters.
Little Ernie Brofsky is draft age. I don't want to see a bayonet
grasped in his hand or breaking through his ribs. The first time
he spent two weeks in one of our fresh air camps, he came
running up the hill from his bunkhouse. I was reading THE BLUE-
BIRD to Edith Segal who had just turned six. She said on her
return to the city after her first trip, "Miss Wald, the buildings
swayed like trees for weeks." Well, Ernie flew into my lap.
"Teacher. I must have swallowed a tadpole in the lake this af-
ternoon. It's alive inside of me here." Together we discovered
the lubb-dup, lupp-dup, lupp-dup alive inside of him here. Liv-
ing on Grand Street with the traffic roar, he never had the chance
to hear the beat-beat-beat of his heart.
Yesterday his mother cried, "Miss Wald, we thought we left
beautiful bleeding Europe behind us." The reaction of our Henry
Street neighbors to the fact of war is sheer bewilderment. Cap-
tain Handy pleaded, "Miss Wald, how can a great, modern,
intelligent nation become involved in war?"
The stakes have never been higher. In spite of the risk to Henry
Street, I'll find sponsors if I have to go door to door.
[Back to her letter to Mr. Schiff.]
"Mr. Schiff, like you, I will not turn away from my conscience. 1
must do everything in my power for peace and justice and hope
that Henry Street will survive and thrive proudly and all the bet-
ter for it. Lovingly, Appreciatedly, Devotedly, Steadfastly, signed,
Lillian D. Wald."
One hundred thousand French boys died in the first month on
the fields of Flanders. President Wilson: No other animal ex-
poses its young to danger. Every species on earth protects its
young with its own life. So can we.
Lillian Wald: At Home on Henry Street is a working draft. The com-
pleted play will be produced by Woodie King, Jr. at Henry Street
Settlement's New Federal Theatre, opening October 9, 1986.
Has your attitude changed)
I used to proselytize. Now I mind my own store.
Martha Wilson, aka Redy Story
I've come to believe that almost no one is a non-activist. When a
person's self interest is in jeopardy, he or she usually becomes
active. Whether it's an upper middle class, upper west sider
whose sun is going to be blocked by the next Trump Tower, or
an Eritrian who wants the national identity of his or her country
to remain separate from Ethiopia; when the desire to live a pride-
ful life is threatened, most people will roll up their sleeves and
get to work. If anything, it's this kind of self-interest activism that
I've grown to trust more than one based mostly on theory and
sympathy. My attitude toward non activists on the other side of
my issue is "may they remain non-active." Mamie Mueller
It sometimes gets to me that some folks are inactive even when
their own backyards are at stake (like the people of Bay Ridge
who seem unconcerned that cruise missies are going to be put
right off shore ...not the people who want the cruises, the people
who don't care!!). Virginia Maksymowicz
I understand increasingly why more working class people are not
on the left in this country. Sometimes I think the left is a bit like
religion, offering us pie in the sky. I understand perfectly well want-
ing to make one's life a little bit better, now rather than ideal in the
future, which in this country means advancing on the economic lad-
der a rung vs ditching the whole ladder. Robin Michals
The most annoying type of person to me is the one who recognizes
the importance of issues; but instead of getting off their collective
asses and doing something, pat me on the back and thank me for
what I am doing. Martha Eberle
No — I always knew that change could be accomplished by a few
people. Deborah Davidson
I am less quick to judge than I used to be for I prefer the quiet,
peaceful life of people who shut off the radio and tend the garden to
the "activists" who wear the badge of the Ku Klux Klan, etc. I wait
and see. Christine Robinson
No: I still get pissed off by arm-chair generals. Also by women who
are fond of saying they don't trust other women. KDF Reynolds
I have greater understanding of the risks that women take when
they speak out. I lost one job because I confronted a male supervi-
sor who was trying to undermine the program that I coordinated. I
also have greater understanding of the amount of time that being a
wife and mother takes. These commitments make it difficult for women
to be as active as they want. Janet Ruth Heller
Yes, I am critical of them, particularly as I see women co-opted due
to career or financial pressure ("feminist" friends who took jobs in
the Army or CIA, for example), or women who refuse to acknowl-
edge the multi-faceted natures of their oppression (Marxist friends
who deny their Jewishness, gay women who scorn feminism). In
these times I respect pacifism, but not neutrality. Bonnie Morris
In one sense I have more patience with people who cannot move
past their own problems/situations, who are either crushed or im-
mobilized dealing with their own lives. Kathy Goldman
No, I still believe, and recently have begun to say in public talks, "If
you're not a part of the solution, you're part of the problem." This is
something taken from the sixties which is even more applicable
today since we are living under a regime that is doing everything
possible to move the country toward fascism, which also affects the
fates of millions and millions of people on the rest of the globe. I
don't trust non-activists, particularly those who have several oppressed
identities, for examples, Lesbians of color. I feel like they're not
dealing on a number of levels and also that they're depending on
other people to make the quality of their lives better. Not everybody
needs to "sacrifice" themselves and every other desire they have in
life to work in the movement. In fact no one should sacrifice them-
selves to be an activist, because thaf s the wrong mentality, you should
love or at least like working for freedom. But I do believe there is
something that everybody can do to make change, to improve this
situation, even if its to get some different information about what's
happening in the world and stop believing the lies they tell on tv and
in the papers. Barbara Smith
Finally I believe some people do not care. Yet I am still amazed.
No. I try not to forget how I felt when I was in the closet, my fears
then and how I had no idea I would ever "come out." And, on the
animal liberation side, I remember how for 30 years I ate animals, so
I have no room to point the finger at anyone else. I feel we come to
the various forms of self-liberation when we are ready for them.
Yes, it has become either more aggressive, more cynical, or
both. Marithelma Costa
I used to feel I could only relate to people who were wholly commit-
ted to the work of human emancipation. Now I am less interested in
being isolated within the movement. Sometimes I want to dive into
the historical examination of my every encounter, it's rootedness in
the social order, my ideas about how to change it; sometimes I want
to eat popcorn and stare at the cat or the TV set. Often these re-
quire two different sets of people. Susan McCarn
The doors of the D train open. A woman steps in and sits at the
end of the last car, alone. She looks around her, reaches into
her bag, and pulls out poems. She slaps them onto the walls of
the train and moves on.
TMl-ortoW' 1 *"*
Bled ncall> ^
she livens beneath him
&i don't mean in the apartment, below
her way to work she watched people read the ads on the sub-
way car walls. She soon grew disgusted and angry at the grab-
bag view of life the ads depicted, the way they reduced people's
lives to which brand of soda or hand cream to buy.
fJ,c,,, «'nv/(l, Ci , lIn
fWe first hit the trains of New York City on February 4, 1984 —
women writers, using pseudonyms, posting our poems on the
walls of the trains and stations — hoping to reach everyone:
Socmen, men, workers, parents, lovers, children — everyone.
The impetus for the Train-ed Poets project began in the fall of
1982 when Mi Nombre worked as a receptionist for an all-
male, racist, and sexist advertising agency. Riding the trains on
by TheTrair>ed Poets
Surrounded daily by language used to exploit and
deceive, Mi Nombre wanted to create an alternative. Influenced
by the graffiti artists of New York City, she would use the trains
and buses as her medium.
Mi Nombre shared the idea with other members of her writ-
ing group — Erin Green, Lucinda, and wwolf.
Together, we further developed the concept. We wanted to
be read by all the people who might never enter a bookstore
— working-class people who are not encouraged to read po-
etry, or to read — or to think (and who are denied crucial sources
of learning and power). And so we broke from the traditional
form of the book— a form that has become unapproachable to
so many people.
Within two months, we wrote over seventy poems specifically
for the Train-ed Poets project. During the next year, the Train-ed
Poets filed copyrights, sought legal advice, received guidance
from consulting artist Manuel Gomez-Rosa on the use of dry
transfer lettering, letterset the poems (spurred on by Lucin-
da), found affordable printing services, and obtained a post
: The final step— actually posting the poems on the subway
— was met with a mixture of fear, apprehension, and excite-
ment: Posting poems is not legal. Like many activists of the past
and present, we risk arrest for the most dangerous of activities
— encouraging people to read, think, and question.
For Erin Green and Lucinda, posting the poems is the most
thrilling part of the project. Embracing adventure the way they
do, the illegality of the project makes it all the more appealing.
"However," says Lucinda, "realities like the murder of Michael
Stewart frighten us deeply, and even more horrifying is the fact
that the killers were set free. But that's precisely why we're out
here doing this."
The first year of posting was hardest for Mi Nombre. Getting
on the subway late at night, sometimes alone, having to be equally
on guard against muggers and the police, meant confronting
some very real dangers. By challenging and, at the same time,
respecting her fear, Mi Nombre makes posting a way of assert-
ing her freedom as a woman and as a human being.
Through the hard work, courage, and creativity of our small
but fiery group, the poems are on the trains.
Mail started coming in as soon as the poems were up. It meant,
yes, we were reaching the people we had set out to reach. A
thank-you card to Lucinda said, "Good stuff. Let's see or hear
more." Others wrote requesting copies of poems, some shared
poetry of their own, many were curious to know more, and still
other folks wanted to let us know that a poem on the train had
brightened a moment in their day.
Not everyone liked our idea. One letter began, "I must say
that I disagree with your method of promotion." But later on in
his letter, this writer asked if we would accept his poems for our
project. The Train-ed Poets project also received attention from
the media: the Franklin Furnace, Presstime, New York magazine,
WNYC radio, and Feminine Connections.
All of the response gave us the inspiration to continue.
Erin Green, to whom much of the mail is written, writes the
way she lives — with spontaneity, humor, connecting to others so
naturally. She shares from such a personal place that she can,
and sometimes does, use lines
from her diary.
; - - ' Lucinda speaks
from her gut. With refreshing
honesty and sharp vision, she exposes
'' S; '"""u.nsv,
-^n-, a , : ""■■••v.
Mi Nombre writes of
the people she loves, knowing — and wanting
them to know — that their lives are precious and must not be
\U Koinl" ,rC
l '"" l "hn (lc
Our poems make
connections where connections
have been alarmingly overlooked.
It's no eoUicidoicc lciicfl
are subtle reminders of often
forgotten and misplaced humanity.
The Train-ed Poets
"'" have posted nearly 4,500
poems in and under New York City,
feel the project has been a success.
The Train-ed Poets
We reach out to
the very people we come frorr
to those who need, yet fear, ch
Ml NOMBRE is the founder of the Train-ed Poets. Her poems recently
won prizes in POW's women's poetry contest.
ERIN GREEN has been a pre-school and kindergarten teacher for
12 years. She enjoys helping children express themselves in words.
J LUCINDA works to raise reading levels in Harlem, designs non-
traditional greeting cards, and writes autobiographical prose.
wwolf has been writing ever since she can remember. She works
in an animal hospital.
This article written by Erin Green, Lucinda, and Mi Nombre.
To contact Mi Nombre and wwolf, please write to Reliable
Sources, P.O. Box 256, Wakefield Station, Bronx, NY 10466.
To contact Erin Green and Lucinda, please write to
Train-ed Poets, Box 336, Jerome Ave. Station, Bronx, NY 1 0468.
FEMINIST TAX RESISTANCE
As far back as Aristophanes' The Lysis-
trata, women have demonstrated their
power to affect peace. They rendered
Greece's armies hostage by denying them
sexual favors and forced the priapic war-
riors to lay down their arms for "love."
Such a strategy no longer works in to-
day's context, for any number of reasons.
Women have traditionally embraced
peace organizations comprised of both
men and women. Such groups happily
embrace women, but not necessarily fem-
inism. In the arena of political activism,
women find themselves struggling for
visibility and equal recognition among
their peers, in addition to working on
Among the pol itical ly active movements,
; there is a fringe element known as the
; war tax resistance movement. War-tax is
the 63% of every tax dollar directed to
military expenses. This resistance move-
i ment is dedicated to diverting funds from
£the military by refusing to pay part or all
of "owed" taxes.
In looking at how this issue pertains to
: women, I spoke with some members of a
i: group called Feminist Tax Resistance As-
sistance about how the issue of taxes in
't general affects'women. FTRA has been
: in existence for nearly two years. It
was formed out of a need expressed by
women who had previously felt verbally
repressed or ostracized for being "divi-
sive" when expressing feminist concerns
within mixed groups. The following are
anonymous quotes from FTRA members:
"Tax resistance is a very individual
choice. I was involved initially with the
- peace movement. The way I came to tax
resistance was just realizing that it didn't
make sense for me to spend my time
working for peace and, at the same time,
- allowing the IRS to take money out of my
check to pay for the very thing I was
working against — the military.
"The first couple of years I resisted. I
didn't pay any taxes or I withheld as
• dose to 1 00% as possible, other than
what was automatically taken from my
JOANIE FRITZ is an actor and a founding
- member of Protean Forms Collective, a
theatre group. She works with New York
'War Tax Resistance.
paycheck. I filed an accurate return,
showing the correct amount owed, and
enclosed a letter explaining why I re-
fused to pay. Last year I withheld the
63% marked for the military. I paid by
money order rather than check so they
wouldn't know where my bank account
was and place a levy on it. To cover my
employers, I sent a formal, signed memo
to the accounting department to be for-
warded to the IRS: 'My job situation is
temporary. I might change jobs soon. I
may be moving shortly. Therefore, I can
receive mail at an organization I work
with.' And I gave the War Tax Resistance
"Tax resistance is a serious thing. I
think about the fact that resisting my taxes
means I'll be in a contest with the IRS for
the rest of my life, and their power to
intimidate is amazing. We all feel it every
time we get a threatening letter in the
mailbox. But in truth that's their most effi-
cient collection procedure. People get
scared and send in the money. The likeli-
hood that you're going to get thrown in
jail is almost nonexistent. I'm not going to
say it's impossible; but it's usually for
side issues, like refusing to give informa-
tion to a judge or failing to produce
In its brief history. Feminist Tax Resis-
tance Assistance (FTRA) has spent a great
deal of time defining itself through analysis
of its policies and positions. Its basic
focus is on feminism and tax resistance,
and how these two issues relate. Tax
resistance groups in general are usually
insular and often have a pacifist or reli-
gious focus. Since women earn 59 cents
to every dollar a man earns, and since a
large percentage of poverty-level heads
of households are women, it may be nec-
essary to re-examine the entire taxation
system, military taxation notwithstanding.
"We strive for a recognition of this
whole thing. We look at what's getting
funded, as well as what's not getting
funded. And what is the whole tax sys-
tem, anyway? That's a focus the tradi-
tional tax movement has not always had.
Traditional tax resistance groups tend to
focus on how much money is going for
which particular weapon, and whether
the world's going to blow up. For my
part, regardless of what they do with
the money, they're not me. They don't
represent me. They're old white men tak-
ing this money and doing their stuff."
The FTRA gives interviews on television
and radio, publishes public statements
and brochures, and holds workshops in
tax resistance, most notably for the
Women's Study Program at New Paltz
University. When asked if visibility has
proven to be a risk factor for tax resisters,
one woman replied: "They know we're
here. We've been in the media, and sure,
there's the possibility that they'll see some-
one's name and decide to pick up on her
just because she's out there. But the rea-
son we do this is because we want to
educate and encourage others to resist.
And the only way to do that is to go
FTRA places a strong emphasis on the
diversion of tax monies into community
and people-related projects and organi-
zations. "Several women from the group
either put money into the People's Life
Fund themselves or serve on its board,
or both," a spokesperson said. "Those of
us in that position have made a point that
we need a commitment of a certain per-
cent of money to go specifically for wom-
en's groups that have limited resources or
opportunities for funding." Last year they
gave grants of $300 to groups such as
Madre, New York Women Against Rape,
Seneca Women's Encampment, and the
St. Mark's Lesbian Health Clinic, as well
as to food co-ops and homelessness proj-
ects. This obviously has a direct impact
on the lives of women in lower income
FTRA also exerts energy in trying to
get a couple million people to withhold
a small amountfrom their Federal re-
turns. In this way, a massive public pro-
test could really be felt by the IRS, and it
would be done at a very low risk to
resisters. "Symbolic protest is an excel-
lent way for people to experience tax
resistance. If you start small, then maybe
the next year you'll decide not to pay
taxes at all."
1 . National War Tax Resistance Coordinat-
ing Committee, P.O. Box 2236, East
Patchogue, New York 11722, (516) 654-6227
2. War Resisters League, 339 Lafayette St.,
NY, NY 1 001 2, (21 2) 228-0450. WRL Guide
to War Tax Resistance (E. Hademann, ed.),
1986 ($8 plus postage).
3. People's Life Fund, (212) 675-7084,
4. Feminist Tax Resistance Assistance,
'm delighted to have as my guest today
Dr. Gloria Joseph. Dr. Joseph is a black
revolutionary-spirited feminist of West Indian
parents and she views the world from a
black perspective with a socialist base. She
has travelled five continents, held various
teaching and counseling positions at four
universities and is an accomplished photog-
rapher, a noted lecturer and author. She
has been in the academic world for over
fifteen years and, along with many papers
and articles, is the author of a I 1 ^1
very important book, Common
Differences: Conflicts in Black and White
Feminist Perspectives, written with Jill Lewis.
That book was first published by Doubleday
and is just being reissued — by South End
Press. Gloria is also the author of "The
Incompatible Menage A Trois: Marxism,
Feminism and Racism," which is in Lydia
Sargeant's edition of Women in Revolution,
also a South End Press Book.
But today I want to talk to Gloria about
South Africa because she is the founder of
what I think is a very important organization,
which will become increasingly so as the
situation in South Africa continues to build.
That organization is SISA, which is Sisters in
Support of Sisters in South Africa. SISA also
means mercy in African dialects.
There are a lot of things that we should
talk about, but first could you tell us about
SISA, how you began to think about this
organization and how you started it and
what you hope it will do.
G. J.— Well, briefly, in terms of SISA's origin
and history: In November 1984, while I
was working at Hampshire College, there
was an event sponsored by the feminist
studies group that was titled "A Pure
Pleasure Luncheon." I felt that at this time
in history, women's groups, particularly
on a college campus, should be giving
some concern to the political aspects of
women on a global basis. That's not to
say that I'm against pleasure or lunch-
eons, but I just felt that at this particular
time we should take advantage of the
opportunity of having groups of women
together to put forth at least one single
phase of a political aspect of women. So
therefore I decided not to attend this
"pure pleasure" luncheon but instead to
urge the women to make a financial
donation to send to the oppressed peo-
ples of South Africa.
Now, let me also say that, prior to this,
I had become familiar with Ellen Kuzwayo,
who is a 71 -year-old South African
woman and activist, and
author of a book, Call Me
Woman. I met her in the film
"Awake from Mourning." That
film was made in South Africa
and was concerned with wom-
formed and be-
gan to become
active as a re-
sult of the upris-
ing in Soweto.
""""" So, I decided at
Jf the "pure plea-
.sissllssKs,, sure" luncheon
that the faculty,
staff and students should make a dona-
tion to an Ellen Kuzwayo fund for op-
pressed peoples. I took an empty coffee
can, wrapped a piece of paper around
it, and wrote "The Ellen Kuzwayo Fund
for Oppressed Peoples". And that is how
Well, the can came back with a meager
amount of money and I guess that this
was the inception of SISA. I felt that,
okay, I've done enough fighting the tide,
let me flow with the current. By that I
meant, if this group does not have the
intensity and depth of my concern for
supporting the women of South Africa, I
would form my own group of women
who would do just that. So I convened a
group of black women and we called
ourselves the founding mothers of The
Sisterhood in Support of Sisters in South
B. C.—l want to ask you some very specific
questions like who the members are now
and how others can participate in support
of the Sisters of South Africa. But, I think
that one of the terrible facts about your
— frankly — terrible story is the real uncon-
cern among so many — and I can speak as
a white academic — among so many white
academics and feminists, to what is going
on in South Africa and, indeed, to what is
going on in our own country when it comes
to the terrible issues of homelessness and
poverty and starvation and, indeed, race. I
think that in terms of South Africa, it's very
hard for us in the United States to get a
very clear picture of it because in South
Africa we have a totalitarian situation, and
totalitarianism depends on propaganda.
There is a tremendous amount of ongoing
violence, which is a daily reality for the
people of South Africa, and almost none of
it gets into the U.S. press. Ellen Kuzwayo
and people like Dr. Gloria Joseph, who
have been to Africa, are very important
connections for us to know more about it.
Because the great obstacle, I think, is just
knowing what is going on under Reagan's
policy of "constructive engagement."
But, first, could you tell us about the
founding mothers, the purpose of SISA,
and more about Ellen Kuzwayo.
G. J.— The founding mothers are col-
leagues of mine and they are from univer-
sities throughout New York City. There's
Johnetta Cole and Audre Lorde from
Hunter College, Andrea Nicole McLaugh-
lin and Zalla Chandler from Medgar
Evers College, and Barbara Riley from
New York University. Those five, plus
myself, comprise the founding mothers.
Then we also have about 50 other mem-
bers who are active in SISA.
The primary purpose of SISA is fund-
raising for the oppressed peoples of
South Africa and educating the public
about the everyday realities of black life
in South Africa. To this end, SISA members .
have spoken at various events and raised
funds; these funds are sent directly to two
women's self-help groups in South Africa.
We have also purchased a copy of the
film "Awake from Mourning," which gives
a very accurate and graphic picture of
everyday life in South Africa for many of
the people there. Ellen Kuzwayo is one
of the major figures in that film, and the
two self-help groups that we send funds
to are groups seen in the film.
One group is called the Zumani-
BLANCHE WIESEN COOK is a biographer,
journalist, and political activist. She is
a professor of history at John Jay College,
City University of New York.
AN INTERVIEW BY
'-■ Sue Williamson, CAROLINE MOTSOALEDI, collaged print, 1985
'I Theartist is a Capetown printmaker, whose series of prints, A Few Soufh Africans, are of airly
% unknown women who have played important parts in the struggle. Caroline Mutsualedi has been a
""• prison widow since her husband was jailed for life along with Nelson Mandela.
Soweto Sisters Coucil. The Council is a
group of women who work to establish
self-help groups and assist women in
those groups with sewing, knitting and
dressmaking. Prior to the development
of this group, in one village there was
just one sewing machine. Ellen Kuzwayo
and other African women would teach
women in the community how to use the
machine, how to knit and crochet, and
how to use the products for themselves
and for sales. About four or five years
later, the Zumani Council was involved
in a major building project, which had a
meeting room, a room for teaching liter-
acy, and a room where women can knit
and crochet. Some of the funds we raise
go directly for this building project. A
literacy project is also a major aspect of
The second group is the Maggaba
Trust. This group of women provides
financial assistance to high school and
university students and assists old-age
pensioners and the disabled. They help
them with payments on their house rents
and give them food parcels throughout
the year. In the film, "Awake from Mourn-
ing", I was particularly touched by a
group of women in the Maggaba Trust
sitting around a table and reading letters
from high school and college students
who needed small amounts of money in
order to return to school, in some cases
$25 or $5, to buy books or to pay a bill.
And, as I said, it touched me to the core
to hear these letters and to see the women
having to make the decision to help,
maybe, half a dozen. This is what made
me think, okay, here's something that we
can do that wiH directly help all those
students whose letters were read. So
funds raised for the Maggaba Trust go
directly to the Trust to enable more stu-
dents to attend higher education.
B.C.-That's really wonderful. You know
there's one thing I think most people don't
know, Gloria, and I have to say I didn't
know it for a very long time. Although
people talk a lot about Soweto, I don't
think people realize why the riots in Soweto
happened. Actually the riots in Soweto came
out of a demand of the students to have
smaller classes and more quality education.
When they began to protest, it was not yet
a boycott; they would picket outside the
schools after school, demanding more liter-
acy. And that pre-boycott picket was met
by the most vicious violence, machine-
gunning the young children of Soweto. So
there is something perfect, of course you
know, about your fundraising doing so much
for literacy. Because what we are really
dealing with here is that most of the people
of South Africa are not supposed to be
literate, are not supposed to be prepared
to live independent lives, and are supposed
to be essentially nothing more than slaves
in the vicious South African economic sys-
tem, which the U.S. government supports.
Until you read details of this economic
system, you don't realize the way it absolu-
tely destroys people— I mean, what hap-
pens when you don't have enough food,
when you don't have enough water to
drink. These new settlements that are sup-
posed to be "homelands" for black Africans
are nothing more than arid strips of land
where people are taken after being re-
moved from fertile lands near water and
forests, the Africans' ancestral lands for
hundreds of years; Africans are brought to
barren lands where frequently there isn't
even a water pipe and there is rarely
sanitation. This vicious system, which the
U.S. is supporting, will require so much
effort on the part of so many people to
change. SISA is just beginning and I hope
that a lot will be done through SISA and
through other organizations.
Let me ask you to tell us more about
GJ.-There's so much to say about Ellen
Kuzwayo. let me just start by saying that
she is an extraordinary woman but, as
Ellen says in her book, Call Me Woman,
there are thousands of African women
relocation centers. In the Philippine War
we called them concentrado camps, and of
course Hitler called them concentration
camps. I think that we should not pussyfoot
around: that is essentially what they are,
on a massive township scale with thousands
of people in them.
G. J.— Ellen Kuzwayo is also very symbolic
Nina Kuo, NO TWO ARE ALIKE, b/w photo, 1 1 " x 14"
The artist uses photography in her visual works and currently teaches art in Chinatown, NYC.
who are very much of the same ilk. By
that I mean their lives are a daily struggle.
They are very much concerned with the
Incidentally, the film "Awake from
Mourning" is related directly to Soweto.
The feeling was that the mourning period
has to be over, and we have to get
on with the business of building our
Ellen is also a victim of the white reset-
tlement of what are called "black spots;"
that is, there was land in her family for
close to a hundred years, and when the
white South African government simply
decided that they wanted this land, land
that had been her family's for close to a
hundred years was no longer theirs. This
is part of the removal that you were
of the women who (in most cases they
are African women) are the ones who
are left on the reserves, the Bantustands,
whatever political name they give them.
They are responsible for the livelihood
of the old people, of the children and of
themselves. Ellen is a social worker and
has also been a school teacher. She was
imprisoned and, to this date, she still
does not know the reason why. As I said,
she is 71 and was recently on tour relat-
ing to her book; she visited the United
States lecturing at many universities
across the country. She is now back in
South Africa and was the chairperson of
the Maggie Maggaba Trust. SISA is in
direct communication with Ellen and other
women on the Council via letters and,
when they are in London, via telephone
B.C.—Bantustans like Soweto are really B.C.— You talk about women like Ellen
Kuzwayo being responsible for the women
and children in these homelands who fre-
quently are alone. I think the other thing
most Americans don't realize is that black
men in South Africa are taken away from
home to work, whether it's for General
Motors or for the vast number of computer
projects. 70% of South Africa's computer
operation is American; 44% of South
Africa's oil operation is American. For all
you've heard the Reagan Administration
say, "well, we're doing good things for the
people of South Africa," what happens is
that the men are forced to live in another
kind of concentration camp, the single sex
work hostel. They are removed from their
families for weeks and weeks at a time.
They may get to see their families maybe
one or two weekends a month ...
B.C.— We are really dealing with a slave
situation here; there is no reason to give it
any other name even if there is some money
Gloria, it seems to me that the biggest
issue for us here in the United States is that
we need to know a lot more, we need to
learn a lot more, we need to read your
work and the work of Ellen Kuzwayo and
the work of so many other people who are
in fact beginning now to write about this in
a vigorous way. I can recommend an article
by Salla Booker, who is a staff consultant
with the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on
Africa for the U.S. House of Representatives,
a black man who recently visited South
Africa and pointed out that it was not unlike
a Jew visiting Nazi Germany. His article is
in Trans-Africa Forum, the summer 1985
issue. If people want to know more about
South Africa, this is one of the many journals
they can read.
We also need to do organizing and
fundraising, and that's one of the biggest
things SISA is about. Is there any last thing
you want to say about SISA and the future?
G. J.-l think it's fitting to say that the two
organizations, the Zumani-Soweto Sis-
ters Council and the Maggie Maggaba
Trust, embody the struggle of black
women in South Africa against the dying
— and it is dying — racist Apartheid sys-
tem, their struggle for the reconstruction
and creation of a free society. They, the
women of South Africa, are carrying on
the long tradition of black women's
central role in liberation struggles, and
SISA carries on the long tradition of
struggles by black women in the United
States against racism and sexism here
I would like to close by reading a
statement from one of the South African
women in correspondence with SISA.
What she said was "We have a chain
that must stay strong and linked with
love. The Sisterhood that you are express-
ing to us gives so much support, and we
feel strengthened in all our efforts. Your
donations will go a long way in assisting
our self-help projects, which we hope to
spread all over the countries outside
n the three years of Art Against
Apartheid's existence we've experienced
rewards, challenges and problems that
may be common to other cultural organi-
zations and activists. We hope that a
brief background and history of our pro-
grammatical and organizational issues
will be helpful.
Art Against Apartheid started as a proj-
ect of the Foundation for the Community
of Artists (FCA) in response to the grow-
ing repression in South Africa and
Namibia. It came out of FCA's special
May 1 983 Art & Artists anti-apartheid
issue and a need to reach even broader
I think that's a message the public can
hear and, hopefully, will respond to.
contact: SISA, 719 Washington Street,
Newtonville, Mass 02160
y Susan Ortega
audiences about the seriousness of apart-
heid's devastating effects on the people
of Southern Africa as well as about the
United States' complicity in perpetuating
the racist regime.
What started out as an idea for one
exhibition among several FCA board
members evolved into a national fall/
winter 1984-1985 apartheid cultural cam-
paign of over 75 exhibitions and cultural
events in the metropolitan New York area
and cities around the country. It is en-
dorsed by many people and organiza-
tions prominent in cultural life as well as
by the United Nations Special Committee
Against Apartheid and the African Na-
tional Congress. Over 400 visual, literary
and performing artists created work
specifically on the apartheid theme. This
spoke to thousands of people in churches,
community centers, libraries, schools, gal-
leries, and offices at the same time as
their television screens showed apartheid
troops occupying Black townships, vio-
lently putting down massive protests, and
increasing the repression of the libera-
The success of our campaign and the
ever growing crisis in Southern Africa
spurred us to continue the organization.
We spent several months regrouping and
attempting to set up an ongoing struc-
ture. However, due to the mounting crisis
in South Africa, we were constantly asked
to put on shows and help organize
activities. These necessarily diverted our
energies away from long-term organiza-
tional goals. Because we felt it a priority
A history and some thoughts on an organization
to respond to requests, we continued to
put off dealing with serious organiza-
tional questions. Shifting from a tempo-
rary structure designed to mount a series
of events in a concentrated period of
time to an ongoing organization proved
to be a challenge.
We also were now working with fewer
people due partly to burn-out from the
fall activities and partly to the fact that
many had made a commitment to work
only through the campaign. During the
1984 build up, a committee structure with
representatives serving as a coordinating
committee oversaw the work and de-
cided on policy. As we moved into 1985,
the coordinating committee became more
and more the group that did the actual
work instead of coordinating the
Another problem we faced was how
to get people involved. In 1984 we held
regular general meetings where people
could plug into committees. With the in-
creased amount of requests and fewer
people, we found it difficult to take time
out to hold general meetings. We now
had to find different ways to involve
In mid-1 985 we mutually agreed to
end FCA's sponsorship. Art Against
Apartheid had to decide whether to in-
corporate as a non-profit organization
and seek tax-exempt status or to function
as a purely activist group. After a great
deal of debate and investigation, which
took the good part of a year, we de-
cided to go the non-profit route, as that
fit best with our goals and enabled us to
receive tax-exempt contributions.
Another serious obstacle was a grow-
ing lack of the administrative backup to
continue ongoing work. Art Against
Apartheid is an ail-volunteer organiza-
tion with almost all of its activists having
full-time jobs in addition to pursuing their
art work. Even picking up phone mes-
sages, dealing with the mail or sending
out minutes sometimes became trouble-
some. The need for a paid staff person
was agreed upon early; having the funds
for that person's salary was and still is
Early on in our reorganization discus-
sions we agreed on the following goals
to guide our work:
1 . To use the medium of art to help
create a greater public awareness about
the issue of apartheid and the situation in
2. To encourage the creation, display,
publication and distribution of visual, lit-
erary and performing art pieces which
examine apartheid critically.
3. To focus our cultural efforts on a
grass-roots level by working with com-
munity organizations and centers, reli-
gious centers, schools and universities,
union, and labor organizations as well
as cultural centers and galleries.
4. To be a cultural resource for educa-
tional groups and organizations working
around Southern African issues.
5. To provide a cultural/educational
mechanism through which artists can con-
tribute their work to groups working on
education around, Southern Africa, issues.
However, other than these goals and
a few procedural guidelines, little was
decided about internal organizational
needs. We continued to put serving the
community first over setting up a firm
structural base and by-laws around which
Throughout 1985 and into 1986, Art
Against Apartheid ran several successful
programs. We sent a large exhibition
through the east coast, organized an
artist protest at the South African consul-
ate, participated in demonstrations, per-
formed and made banners for the Colum-
bia University Blockade and spoke at
several United Nations anti-apartheid
conferences. In November, we held
"South Africa Will Be Free" in which
over 20 poets and musicians performed
to raise money for a South African
artists' scholarship fund. In December
1 985 we mounted an exhibition at Brook-
lyn's Boricua College with work specifi-
cally created on the themes: Apartheid
and the family; divestment; and paral-
lels, apartheid/U.S. racism. For Black His-
tory Month 1 986, we held an exhibit at
Brooklyn Medgar Evers College. Our
February Limelight Club event provided
educational information about Southern
Africa to a totally new audience. There is
also a California Bay Area Art Against
Apartheid that has been carrying on sim-
ilar activites on the West Coast.
One of the most ambitious of our proj-
ects saw the light in March 1 986 with the
publication with IKON magazine of Art
Against Apartheid: Works for Freedom?
Over 150 visual and literary artists con-
tributed work to this unprecedented an-
thology to which Alice Walker wrote the
introduction. The volume also has a spe-
cial Southern African section of inter-
views with leading anti-apartheid figures,
poets and photographers.
Future plans include events centered
around the anthology and other travel-
ing exhibitions, and a material aid cam-
paign to raise money for the art supplies,
musical instruments, books, films and
video equipment needed by cultural
workers in the liberation movement. We
hope that any readers who can contrib-
ute to this effort will get in touch with. us.
We are also interested in starting a chil-
At present, Art Against Apartheid con-
tinues to have a very committed multira-
cial coordinating committee and group
of volunteers who have a range of politi-
cal and organizational experiences.
Working together has been a learning
and growing experience for all involved.
We still face several organizational
challenges: a need for paid staff; a need
to find creative ways of involving people
who can devote major time in a coordi-
nating capacity as well as of finding
volunteers who can take on projects, work
or committees without getting burnt out
from too many meetings: a need to
sharpen our goals and tighten our or-
ganizational structure and of course a
need to develop a more solid approach
to fund raising.
In evaluating our work over the past
three years we can say that the expres-
sion "A picture is worth a thousand
words" — if we understand "picture" to
mean the arts in general — has been re-
affirmed a thousand times over. In each
community we have worked with, in each
gallery and community center, we have
been reassured of the power of art to
explain, educate and engage the viewer
and the listener in the experience of
others. We have met with people young
and old who did not know what apart-
heid is and who go away changed by
the knowledge. We have met with many
who, knowing much or little about the
situation in Southern Africa, have wanted
to help to make a change, to contribute
their time, their energies, their creative
abilities, whether they could give one
hour or several hundred hours.
Art Against Apartheid demonstrates
the commitment on the part of U.S. artists
to work in an educational capacity as
cultural workers. As we move towards
our fourth year we seek your suggestions
and involvement in working for a free
South Africa and Namibia. Please send
comments and contributions to Art
Against Apartheid, 280 Broadway-41 2,
NYC 10007 or call (212) 222-5567.
'This volume is available at $7.50 plus .75 post-
age from Art Against Apartheid, 280 Broadway,
Suite 412, NYC 10007.
— <u~™ hi ii i i i ii iiiiiiim ii i i iiiin i w i iyy^™""" 1 '
SUSAN ORTEGA is a visual artist who
focuses on murals. She is co-director of
Art Against Apartheid and vice-president
of the Foundation for the Community of
■^ •.-•< -_ ■ !
Look. That's "Susanna and the Elders.'
She's naked in the garden.
She's very beautiful?
Yes. They lusted after her. They waited,
day after day, for the time when they
could take her.
The sun is overhead. Susanna had gone
into the garden?
Yes. She wanted to bathe because it was
hot. She sent her servants to close the
She was alone?
No. The elders, they were hiding. They
were watching and waiting.
They rose and ran towards her. They
Yes. They said, "We are alone and desire
you. Lie with us. If you refuse, we will
plot against you."
Yes. "I am hemmed in on every side. If
I lie with you, I will die. If I don't, I will
not escape your hands. I choose not to
She cried out?
Yes. But the elders shouted against her.
They roused the people who gathered to
The elders ordered her unveiled?
Yes. They wanted to feed upon her beauty.
They put their hands on her head.
' V , They testified against her falsely?
r'i.iaJ w r* • J...1//TI
Yes. Susanna cried out, "These men have
borne false witness against me. And now
I'm to die. Yet I am innocent."
But the people believed the elders?
Yes. Because they were the elders. And
so the people condemned her.
Ellen Rumm, NATURAL HAZARDS (from Susanna and the Elders), 1981 , photo collage and text, 40" x 60"
ELLEN RUMM is an artist living in NYC. Her
sculpture and installations explore the pas-
toral tradition from a feminist perspective.
Walter De Maria
THEY ALLOW THEIR WORK TO BE SHOWN IN GALLERIES THAT
SHOW NO MORE THAN 10% WOMEN ARTISTS OR NONE AT ALL.
ftlarisa Del Re
Dia Art Foundation
Oil & Steel
r^w) Till* l.'.MTKl). STATE® (iE^ljf-J It ICiV^^I
WOMEN IN AMERICA EARN ONLY 2/3 OF WHAT MEN DO.
WOMEN ARTISTS EARN ONLY 1/3 OF WHAT MEN ARTISTS DO.
woe rnoM GUERRILLA GIRLS con:
white mmm-i about
'Robert Pincus-Wif ten
! 'Dore Ashton
1 Kenneth Baker
1 Yves-Alain Bois
J Between 1979&1985, lesslhan 20%of ihefealurearlides&reviewsof one-personshowsbythesecrilics were
j about art mode by women.Those asterisked wrote about art by women less than 10% of the time or never
1 s;*r i "'„si '."'fiiS^s "Sf """**"""
i-jHi.c. •>(-■.■.[[ » t S5*y;no«_CUi«(l_ILlA6l«lS
art world. We decided to use tactics and strategies appro-
priate to the 80's and to remain anonymous so as to draw
attention to issues, rather than personalities. Beginning last
spring, we plastered New York City's Soho and East Village
with a series of posters that bluntly state the fads about
sexual discrimination in galleries, museums and art writing.
We would like to encourage people in other cities to begin
Guerrilla Girls cells. Each branch takes its own name and
initiates its own events. We would like to remain in dialogue
with all the groups and encourage you to send us examples
of what you're doing. We will continue to do the same. If
IIBEUMS LAST YEAR?
P.O. BOX 1056 N
en have you been
most effective? J
When the odds against me aren't too great. I did good work in
the Peace Corps, but it was destroyed in the end by my own
government and, by being destroyed, did more harm than good.
My work in East Harlem during the Poverty Program was very
successful. We had money, access to legislators and a presi-
dent, and ways of infiltrating bureaucracies. When I worked for
New York City under John Lindsay, if I were tricky enough, I had
access to money and power that I could use in defense of the
programs I supported, e.g., the Panthers. We did some amazing
work that way. At WBAI we had the power of the media at our
disposal and a populace that was open to hearing what we had
to say. We had great influence on the course of things. Some-
times too great I now think, but that's another issue.
Probably during actions. Preparations for action make us forget
the very little influence we have.
Vrouwen Tegen Kernwapens, The Netherlands
I have been most effective in times of collective participation.
When individual combat fused with the community's. When there
is no separation of the "I" and the "we", the experience of com-
munal action takes on a sacred quality.
Working in small groups with a pressing deadline — when you
just push to get something done real fast.
When I talk, write or teach; I'm not much of a marcher-zapper.
I have been most effective when presenting the work of other
Latino artists in their community because these artists were able
to see the quality of work they were capable of doing. While
appearing on panels with other third world women artists, I have
brought white women to see the unusual experiences of being
bicultural in this society.
When I have no emotional investment in being opposed. Women
who had been illegally denied unemployment insurance (EDD/
Boren— California) had an unfairly short deadline to apply for
benefits they should have received in the first place. While the
decision affected millions of women, they had only the summer
months of 1985 (May through August) to apply. No one in local
media was covering it, so I called TV assignment editors and
told them. It took me three hours one day and two the next on the
phone. The story was on the 3 local news stations (ABC, NBC,
CBS) with Belva Davis of KRON (NBC) going into advocacy jour-
nalism with her anchor woman.
When I have been arrested or jailed, have been most effective
in getting other people's attention and getting them to move. It's
like I'm moving over and making a space for another to fill.
When the issue has been one involving
how my life Will be lived. Maureen Lahey
I have been involved in food/hunger issues for 20 years. Effec-
tiveness has come from sticking to an issue and becoming very
knowledgeable about it — knowing more than the enemy. When-
ever we have been able to involve people who are affected by
the particular issue or problem, added our expertise and to-
gether caused change.
In meetings and public speaking, and always when I am most
honest... when I lay myself on the line... when I am filled with
feeling as well as idea... when I talk not only about my political
analysis of a choice of action but about why it will change my life
in this moment.
When my artworks have reached people, making them feel some-
thing they didn't know, they could feel, making them see some-
thing they couldn't see otherwise.
Avoiding didacticism, being funny.
Who knows? I believe in every little bit making a difference.
When I remember my awakening activism and even the impe-
tus to continue to be active, I recall all the different comments,
posters, phrases that set me off. I feel most effective when I am
totally convinced about what I am doing and have at least some
support from others.
T I O N N A 1 R E
In 1969, 1 hadn't a political clue in my
head— not a thought of politics. The thing
was, the troubles started in 1 969, and I
got married in 1 969. There is no way in
the North that you can divide your per-
sonal life and your political life. Even
people who aren't-involved, they see sol-
diers standing on the street. If their hus-
bands are politically active, they're beii
.1 I ir .1 Y« II I it I
they are affected. Their private life is a
reflection of the political situation.
Every time Ronnie was arrested, it was
on a 7-day order. People used to say,
well, you must be used to him being
arrested by now. But, you never get used
i _ •. I I .» I • IT. II
it's a 7-day order, you have to wait, and
because there's so many times when -
1 971 , Ronnie was put on the floor and
was tortured. But after that, he was c
tinually arrested. They arrested him th
times in two weeks once. In fact, that \
a couple of months before he was kill
in August. He was arrested on a Fridc
and held for three days, then he was
■ arrested on the following Friday, and
was just harrassment, but sometime
they'd just want him off the street, like
August the 9th, the Anniversary of Inte
ment. They would lift him on a 3-day
order so he couldn't participate in dei
paramilitaries, but they could only ha>
done it with information given to them
the Army or the RUC Speciqlbranch— fc
they used, but he had "UVF" hacked into
his arm. It happened at Castlereagh, dur-
ing interrogation. So when he came out,
L- - I rr. . I i . . . . '
making malicious allegations against the
police. He was fined £200, but then he
went to High Court, and the judge said
because they knew the house inside-<
They bashed the door in with a sledi
hammer, and they were up the stairs !
stairs. There were seven doors at t
tere our bedroom was, it would be tl
t door you'd see. Ronnie and I were
shing the door, trying to close it. The
<re so quick, they had gotten there
fore we could get the bolt on. There
would be a Re
»o school with R-
must have been thinking if I scream loud
enough, somebody would hear it — maybe
somebody would get help or phone, or
Then I heard, a couple of shots. I
thought they were shooting through the
door, and I jumped back. I hadn't real-
ized I had been hit on the hand. He'd got
his gun blindly around the door, and my
hand got it. You know, it was nerves
— you don't realize — I didn't know I'd
been shot. I fell back then. I knew then
that Ronnie had no chance. There were
two of them, and they both were armed,
and I couldn't do anything to help him,
to have a go at me, but he couldn't break
loose. The other one was at the top of
the stairs — they were so professional
— because with me struggling with his
friend, he was shooting at me and got
me twice more. He hit me once through
the collarbone and the other went through
my right armpit. Well, then I was hit three
times, and I had to fall back. I couldn't
hold him. He climbed over me then, and
he went down the stairs, much the way
the Brits would — one went down for-
wards, and the other went down, you
know, covering, looking backwards. I
was at the top of the stairs, against the
you see? In my mind, I thought: "I don't
want to see him being shot". I knew he
was going to die. I didn't want to have
that picture in my mind ...for the rest of
your life, you'll see your husband actu-
ally gunned down. So I fell back on the
bed and just turned away. I wasn't look-
ing then. I expected to hear maybe two
shots— because that's all it would take
to kill him. But, they kept. ..bang, bang,
bang ... shot after shot, and I couldn't
understand what was happening, and I
looked up. Well there must have been a
bit of a struggle, because Ronnie was no
longer in the doorway, he was lying
across the landing. I could see the bot-
tom half of his body, and this basfard is
standing over him, pumping him with
bullets ... continually firing into his
body ... and it was obvious that he was
already dead, but my mind just really
blew then ... I just lost control ...the only
thought in my mind then was: "Just leave
him alone". So I jumped up. ..I don't
know how I managed to grab him with
my hand all shot up, but I grabbed his
jersey and got a good hold of him, and I
was shouting at him: "Leave him alone!
Leave him alone!" I was trying to pull •
him, trying to get him away from Ron-
nie's body. He was trying to get 'round
wall. I looked down, and I could see
Ronnie was dead, because his body was
completely white, and his eyes were
open, staring, so I knew he was dead
then, and they were on their way
out...andtheone I had been struggling
with, he just lifted his gun then, and shot
me in the mouth. So, I thought then, I was
dying. When you are hit in the mouth,
you don't usually survive, and all I could
think about was the children, you know?
So, when I was shot in the mouth, then,
the blood started to go into my lungs. I
was drowning, I couldn't breathe, be-
cause of the blood, and I had to get
down and around to get the blood up.
So I turned 'round and got down, and
the blood was coming up, and what I
thought was bones... I kept spitting things
out. ..was my teeth. I lost all my teeth
then, and when I was bent down, I was
then facing into the baby's room, and
there was a single bed and the baby's
cot, and the baby was standing in his cot,
having hysterics. He'd seen the whole
thing. He's 15 months old, and he saw
everything. And he was hysterical. I could
hear this funny strange noise... gasping
...and I remember seeing then ...it was
Noel's feet. They'd gotten Noel too.
I'd forgotten in all the panic that Noel
was there. He died afterwards, because
his lung had been perforated, and he bled
to death. The two other children ...the two
girls came out of the back room. Fionna
was seven and Dierdre was three, and
Dierdre was screaming, and Fionna.. .1
don't know how she did it, she was only
a wee seven ...she was squealing and
crying... but she was still a bit sensible. I
had my back to them, you see, and
Fionna kept saying: Mommie, what will |
do? What will I do? I tried to tell her. I
tried to say: "Get out and get help", but
with the bleeding, she couldn't under-
stand me, and I had to say it three times.
She stood there and waited 'til I had said
it three times and when she understood
what I had said, she had to climb over
her daddy's body ... he was across the
top of the stairs, and she had to climb
over him, and go down the stairs. So she
went over next door, then all the neigh-
bors came running in, and they were
horrified, you know, to walk in and see
two dead men and me. I told them to get
the children ... I wanted them away.
I never lost consciousness. I didn't want
to be touched or moved, because I knew
how bad my injuries were. The nurses
were holdin' me up and moving me at
different angles, because before I could
be operated on they had to know what
sort of injuries I had. So, it seemed ages,
and they put me in a small room, and I
kept asking to be put out, and they kept
saying: "Not yet". I was shot at half-r.
three, and they gave me anesthetic at
quarter past five.
He said the reason he couldn't was
because 1 was six and a half hours in the -
theater, and he said it was very danger-
ous to have someone under an anes-
thetic for such a long time. He said if
been a smoker, I'd have been dead, that
my lungs had to have been strong in
order to hold up to six and a half hou
of anesthetic, and that if they ha<
me anesthetic earlier, I'd have been out - .;
too soon, and may not have survived.
There were three different teams that
worked on me. One of the teams wor
on my mouth. They spent three hours
working on my mouth, and my tongue ^
They had to stitch all my gums, stitching Jjj
my mouth up, and then I had to have
tracheotomy, and fixing my hand, an<
all, they stitched it there. It took six and a||
They didn't know for the first fori
eight hours if I was going to live or -nou. !<.,.|
was touch and go, but after the fir
eight hours or so, the doctor said I stane ^
to show some improvement, and 1 w
out of danger then. But, I was in the :
intensive care for ten days, and after that
| was in for four weeks all together. The
doctors were amazed that I managed to
recover so quickly. I had to learn to start
swallowing again, because I was fed
through a tube with all my throat dam-
age. I can't eat without something to
drink, because it sticks there, you know?
And a lot of times if I am irritated, with a
tickle in my throat, I cough and you think
I'm gonna choke — you're gaspin' — it
doesn't happen too often, but it frightens
people sometimes. But, by and large, all
things considered, by the injuries I had, I
came out of it sort of pretty reasonable.
At the time, I'd have thought that I'd be
left with, you know, really horrible injuries.
My spine is still damaged — I have to
see the specialist to consult him again in
a couple of months. My own doctor says
he doesn't think there is anything that
can be done about the spine. It's just too
painful, you know, if I overdo it. If I work
too hard, I have to have a rest. There are
pieces of it missing.
:'..'■ The consulting doctor has said that the
bullet had gone into my mouth, had
; knocked my teeth out and part of my
Uongue, and my whole mouth was badly
^damaged. The bullet had hit my spinal
jicplumn and richocheted across and
rested beside the main artery. He said if
it had hit the main spinal column dead
on, it would have travelled to the brain
and I'd be dead. You also could be par-
alyzed from the neck down. There have
been a number of people in Belfast shot
who are paralyzed from the neck down.
So, he said it was lucky it was touching
the main artery. It was actually leaning
against it. It could have punctured it if it
moved just a fraction more. But, I recov-
ered pretty quickly, you know: four
- When I came out of hospital, I got the
, children back and I went back to the
same house because I had all my friends
and neighbors that I knew were there. I
didn't want to go to a strange environ-
ment, you know, where you know no-
body. And I had to have friends stay with
me for about a month, and I had to have
friends stay with me at night, in case I
.needed help during the night. Because
When I lay down, I was wearing the neck
;brace, and when I lay down — I wore
.one of those high surgical collars for
about two and a half months afterwards-
even had to wear one when I was
sleeping, so it meant that if I woke up in
-me middle of the night, I couldn't get up.
. ° we nt to the same house, but the
fnildren were very upset for a while. The
-baby was fifteen months, and I thought
he would be alright, but when I tried to
put him in the same room again, he took
convulsions — he was screaming, he went
purple in the face, he was chokin' you
know? He just panicked when I put him
in his crib in that room. He'd play in that
room during the day, but when you'd put
him in the cot in that room, he just went
completely hysterical — just stiff, rigid. And
I took him out, I thought it ws my imagi-
nation, and I'd put him back a couple of
hours later, and he'd just do the same
thing again, he just took hysterics. You
see, he'd seen his father killed and he'd
seen Noel killed. Noel was lying beside
him on the floor, and he'd seen me shot,
you know, and it must have registered.
So, I had to move his cot into another
room. He's in with the girls now. He
won't sleep in that room. I never tried
him back there again. I didn't want to
Dierdre is three and she cried for her
Daddy for three weeks. She kept saying,
you know, she wanted her Daddy back.
Both her grandparents told her that her
Daddy was in heaven, and that he
wouldn't be back. So she said she wanted
to go to heaven to see her Daddy. And I
says, you can't you know — it's only dead
people that can go there. She was only
that she doesn't want me to die. And I
say, "I won't die, I'm young." I say, "I
won't die 'til you're grown up." So she
says, then: "I don't want to grow up then,
Mommy, I don't want you to die." I went
out once and left her with a neighbor. I
told her I was going to the Post Office. I
was gone about an hour, and when I
came back she was sitting on the door-
step screeching her head off. Normally,
she's a very stable child but she was
screeching. She thought something had
happened to me because I was gone for
so long. She is just completely obsessed
with the idea that something else is going
to happen to me. It left her insecure. So,
that's the three children.
People do one of two things here: they
end up on Valium or they become
stronger. Becoming a feminist and get-
ting involved in women's politics helped
me tremendously, because it gave me an
interest outside of Ronnie's activity. Be-
coming aware of myself as a woman
and as a feminist, gave me an aware-
ness of my own situation. Before, I al-
ways considered myself just in terms of
Ronnie and the family. Now I mainly think
more of myself, and it gave me much
more strength because when Ronnie died,
I was able to stand on my own two feet
three, and she couldn't understand, you
know, that he couldn't come back, and
that she couldn't go to heaven. So she
cried off and on for about three weeks.
There's nothing you can tell a three year
old to comfort her. But after a while, she
just sort of accepted it. But, the oldest
one is seven, and she knows what hap-
pened. She knew that we'd all been shot,
you know? So, this is ten months now,
and she's still getting upset. She gets
very upset about me. She seems to be
very possessive. Not possessive that she'll
follow me everywhere, but when I go
out, she worries that I'm not coming back.
She's worried about me dying — she says
with my children. I knew it would be
hard, but the prospect didn't terrify me
as much as it might a woman who wasn't
a feminist. After I was released from
hospital, I wasn't physically well for about
6 months. I got invitations for holidays,
so I went to Germany for a month, and
to New Orleans for two months. When I
came back, I became more politically
active myself. I could accept Ronnie's
death, but I could never accept him dying
for nothing. One way to insure that was
to help the struggle to continue — to help
keep it going. So now I go to England
and to the United States, on speaking
! rom my first glance at June Beer's apartment, it could
have been in Greenwich Village instead of in the remote
tropical jungle town of Bluefields on Nicaragua's Atlantic
Coast. In the main room where June eats, paints and entertains,
the white walls are covered with an international collection of
paintings and drawings. Beside her easel and a table contain-
ing oil paints and brushes is a group of canvases awaiting her
impressions. An eclectic collection of books, both Spanish and
English, ranging from poetry to politics and history, are neatly
arranged on shelves throughout her apartment.
After four years of annual travel to Nicaragua, between 1981
and 1984, to interview artists about the relationship between
their art work and their revolutionary experiences, I was still
missing an important link. I had never visited Nicaragua's At-
lantic Coast, nor met the well-known and respected artist June
Beer. In 1 985, 1 was determined to meet her and was not disap-
pointed. June Beer's life and paintings reflect five decades
of Nicaragua's history from a unique Black and feminist
June is an attractive women who fills a wide rocking chair to
capacity. For five intensive days we talked together on the bal-
cony of her apartment overlooking a bustling market, her sto-
ries punctuated by her wonderful warm laughter.
As yet, June Beer is the only painter who has emerged from
Bluefields, a town of 40,000 people, to receive national and
international recognition. Self-taught, she has forged her own
artistic pathway, emulating neither the abstract tendencies of
most Nicaraguan professional artists nor the detailed landscape
style of the popular "primitive", self-taught Solentiname artists.
Born in 1 933, June has dedicated herself since 1 956 to docu-
menting her Black heritage in the daily life of her people. They
were first brought as slaves from Africa to Jamaica and Haiti,
and then to Nicaragua's Atlantic coast region in the 1 600's. Nic-
aragua's Black, English-speaking population is centered mostly
in the port town of Bluefields. The Rama, Suma and Miskito
Indians, each speaking their own dialect, are another compo-
nent of the population of the Atlantic Coast, which stretches from
the Honduran border to Costa Rica.
In contrast, Nicaragua's dominant Pacific region consists of
people who are Spanish-speaking and Mestizo of Spanish and
Indian heritage. Their colonial history, customs and traditions
are distinct from those of the Atlantic coast peoples. Of the total
national population of approximately three million, only 10%
are located on the isolated Atlantic Coast.
One can travel the distance from Bluefields, located at the
mouth of the Escondido Rjver, to Rama only by boat, a five or six
hour journey. On the semi-enclosed deck, two women set up a
little food stall, selling meat and salad on palm leaves or fruit
drinks in knotted plastic bags to the passengers. Along both sides
of the river there is dense, impenetrable tropical jungle with an
XV. ^'- ■'..-... . t ... .....
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X -V 'N
BLACK SANDINO, 1983, oi! on canvas
occasional house of bamboo and thatch. At Rama, a small ram-
bling town, there are old buses that take passengers to Mana-
gua on another slow and exhausting five-hour journey.
June recalls that "politicians made jokes about the U.S.
-financed highway from Managua to Rama", saying that "if the
Somoza government hadn't embezzled all the money that came
from the highway construction, they could have paved it with
During the Somoza era before the 1 979 revolution, Bluefields,
according to June, "was a region that was forgotten and ig-
nored. No one was encouraged to dream, to think of the future,
or of art, but only to make a little money for subsistence." The
"message that schools gave people was "not to make a better
society for everyone, but only to work for self-improvement."
: During those years of economic struggling to maintain her
5 children, she resorted to her childhood work experience of col-
Sleeting empty whiskey bottles and plastic containers, which she
: would sell in Managua. There she used the money to buy fresh
?!vegetables to resell in Bluefields.
:: "I used to paint pictures of people coming from the market-
place, carrying baskets on their heads; men working on the
docks or planting in the fields; women grinding corn, washing
clothes or cooking. Sometimes I just painted pictures of flow-
ers." At this time June gave away most of her work. "I never
dreamed," she said, "that I could make a living from my
The encouragement to pursue her career came in 1968 from
another painter, a Dutch ship captain. "I told him. ..'When my
children are out of school, I will dedicate myself full time to paint-
ing." He said to me, "Why wait? Why not paint now?"
"So in 1 969," June relates, "I went to Managua to make my-
' self a name. Fortunately, in Managua I was constantly making
paintings and selling them, and then there were orders for more."
At the end of the year, June returned to Bluefields. Occasion-
ally art collectors came to buy her work. However, she laments,
'I was not well organized. I was subjected to many people who
were like alligators and they often took a big bite out of me.
They were so greedy.
' "I used to paint on the porch of my house (in the Beholden
district), where anyone could see my work as they passed by. I'd
make a whole batch of paintings and then take them to Mana-
gua. I couldn't stay away very long, I had my kids in Bluefields,
- so I practically gave my paintings away. ...Bluefields residents
would never buy my work. They would rather buy a plastic or-
nament for their walls."
She returned to Managua for two more years, 1971 and 1972,
integrating with the professional artists — Roger Perez de la
Rocha, Orlando Sobalvarro, Leonsio Saenz, Leonel Vanegas
and others. But she didn't exhibit with them at the Praxis Coop-
erative Gallery in Managua. She was often criticized because
her paintings weren't like the detailed primitive paintings from
Solentiname. She told them that "my reality and the Solentiname
reality are two different things. In Bluefields we have space and
my paintings reflect this."
I asked June about her political development. She told me
that she had read books about Sandino and the poetry of Pablo
Neruda. June said, "That did help, because in Bluefields we only
used to hear about Sandino being a bandido or bandit. Later I
could transmit different ideas to my children. So when the FSLN
or the Sandinista Liberation Movement came to Bluefields, about
1978, my children were ready for it."
Many Nicaraguan artists had been jailed during Somoza's
epoch for their revolutionary activities. I asked June if she had
been in jail and she quickly told me, "Twice." In 1971, she re-
called, five or six of the professional artists were working to-
gether in one of their studios, making the final arrangements for
Sobalvarro's exhibit at the Praxis Gallery. That evening, the
Somoza Guardia broke into the studio, "tearing the place apart,
on the pretext that they were looking for drugs." But, June said,
"they really suspected us artists of anti-Somoza political
activities. ..Sure enough, no drugs were found, but the artists
were all taken to jail."
June was released the next day. The others were kept in jail
for three days, with hoods over their heads. Protests were held
by university students to demand the artists' release.
June still has nightmares about an earlier incident with the
Somoza Guardia of Bluefields, an incident that did not go away
so easily. When I asked June why she had been in jail, she
didn't want to describe the exact'details and summarized this
event with the phrase "for standing up for my rights." Her feisty
attitude had provoked the authorities to dehumanizing acts.
She drew me sharply into her present Bluefields reality with
the comment: "Don't come knocking on my door too early
tomorrow... every Friday night I have guard duty from 11 P.M.
until 2 A.M. at our neighborhood CDS or Sandinista Defense
Committee. All the neighborhood residents have their particular
BETTY LADUKE is a painter, printmaker, and a professor at Southern
Oregon State College. Her book Companeras: Women's Art and
Social Change in Latin America was published by City Lights.
hours for the 24 hour vigilancia or vigil that we keep in order to
warn everyone if there are any strange or counter-revolutionary
activities." (I soon realized the importance of the CDS when
Bluefields was attacked by the Contras within three days after I
left. In the exchange of gunfire seven residents were wounded
and 24 Contras were killed.)
I asked her about Somoza and the situation in Bluefields right
June Beer at Exhibition Cuatro Mujeres, 1983
before the "triumph", which would bring me up to her present
June said, "Since I'm outspoken, everybody in Bluefields knew
that I was against Somoza." She described the Guardia as "old
thieves that scrape out the last drop of blood from the country
before they leave. The only thing they can't take away from us is
our revolutionary fervor!"
At the beginning of the eventful year 1979, June's son Camilio,
then about 16 years old, frequently wrote and read papers at
the student assemblies telling of various supportive FSLN activi-
ties that the students could also join, such as a protest or a strike.
Eventually the Somoza Guardia came to June's house. "To
pick up my son," she said, "but they let him go. The coman-
dante talked to me: 'Senora, I heard ...you worked hard to main-
tain your children, your husband never helped you with them.
We just want to know who gives your son the papers he reads
at the assemblies'." She told him, "My son just comes to school
and finds a paper already on his desk, and then he just reads
The comandanfe didn't seem to believe her, so June recalls,
"I looked him straight in the eye and said, 'I have four children,
and Camilio is the most truthful one. Please talk to him because
he can get into trouble'."
She compared the Guardia to a "bush that has tigers and
snakes, animals that can eat you. These animals that are in town
are more dangerous, so whenever the opportunity comes, you
Soon after, Camilio went to the mountains where he joined
the Sandinista guerillas and fought against Somoza. June
proudly says, "My son was politically convinced and knew it
was right, it was the right thing to do. I encouraged him in his
Shortly before the "triumph", her youngest daughter, then 15,
also wanted to join the guerrillas. June packed a small bag for
her and told her, "...to look out for... male opportunists who,
instead of leading you to the guerrillas, take girls into the bush
and take advantage of them. Check ...to smell if your guide has
Sure enough, her daughter returned without letting the guide
lead her to the guerrillas. She said, "he not only smelled of
liquor. ..but also of cologne."
Soon after, she and June left for Costa Rica. Shortly before
the revolution, June said, "The Guardia were walking the streets
of Bluefields with their guns aimed at the people. The people
were told by them that 'Somoza has some nice candies (bullets)
Each day one to two boatloads of people were leaving
Bluefields for Costa Rica. During the two weeks June remained
there, she assisted in coordinating facilities for receiving the in-
flux of Nicaraguan refugees. Immediately after the July 19th
triumph, she returned to Managua.
June ventured forth to the newly formed Cultural Ministry,
where a new career opened up for her. They needed someone
to make an inventory of books on the Atlantic coast, and June
offered to do it. She considered it a good opportunity to learn
more about her own Miskito Indian heritage.
One of her more surprising discoveries during this period of
•33. m- EES
FRUIT VENDORS, 1984, oil on canvas
travel along the Atlantic coast was the diversify among the vari-
ous Miskito tribes. She was moved by the grave sites and said,
"I saw the graves, each one with a little tin roof over it. me :
Miskitos thought it was their duty to protect their loved ones
from the rain, and, for the first time, I understood that very well.
June candidly described the contents of the Bluefields library, .
established during the Somoza period, as being "full of shi .
The main collection of books consisted of "old romance nove
from the 1800's, which couldn't help these people solve trie
problems. Before the Somoza ^Guardia pulled out, they looi
a || the good books, expecially those of the history of the Atlantic
Coast." June also told me that "during the Somoza period only
townspeople whose names appeared on a select list could bor-
row books. Others had to rent them by paying the price of the
June was asked to help establish two new Atlantic Coast li-
braries, at Pearl Lagoon and at Cukra Hill. At the end of 1980,
she was appointed by the Cultural Ministry as head librarian of
the Bluefields library and, with her two assistants, went to Mana-
gua for training. Upon her return, she "took the responsibility of
throwing away a large part of the library's old romance nov-
els." She had to fight with the town's administration to support
the library. She said, "I even invented laws that they didn't know
were not on the books, because they couldn't read. I did this in
order to get their support."
.: .. When I visited the Bluefields Library, a large square building
along the main street, I found the environment pleasant. Anyone
•could now come to do research or sit and read. Anyone from
town could now borrow books, free. A librarian offered to help
me, but I had only come to photograph June's 1978 portrait of
Sandino, displayed on the library's back wall.
General Sandino, the heroic symbol of the Nicaraguan Rev-
olution, is compared to an eagle. A series of blood-red feathers
:drift downward along one side of Sandino, above the head of
a wounded eagle.
June painted the portrait clandestinely. In order to maintain
.inspiration, she would play a cassette of revolutionary songs, or
of poems read by Ernesto Cardenal. She recalled how "my blood
pressure sank down to my ankles while I was painting Sandino,
and an official of the Guardia stepped out of his car, came to
my house and said, 'I have a telegram for you.' If was from the
Italian Embassy confirming an exhibit of my paintings."
■ From several reviews of her work, I also became interested
in a particular painting from a series she did in the late '70s
titled "The Funeral of Machismo", or "The Funeral of Male
While the form of a proud, beautiful rooster dominates the
canvas, p'ainted above it is a horizon line upon which four
.women are standing. They are a child, a young woman, a preg-
nant woman and a grandmother, all shaking their fists at the
rooster. June comments about the common plight of most
women, "Even if you're a doctor, lawyer or teacher, when you
■come home from your job, you work at home while your hus-
band sits down. He sits and watches you work."
" Since the Revolution, apart from her library work, June has
been integrated into the Artists' Union and the ASTC, the
-oandinista Association of Cultural Workers. These organizations
arrange for national and international exhibits, the purchase of
;art supplies, and a general interchange among the artists.
; In 1981, June traveled with others, at government expense, to
,jne Festival of the Caribbean in Barbados. Eight of her paint-
ings were on display there, and she described the colors she
wed at that time to depict skin tone as being "pure brown, like
•M color of instant coffee."
June relates that, during the Festival, another artist "looked at
/painting of Bluefields' people and said, 'This is what you
tall Black? This is not Black. These are hybrids. Black skin has a
!' n 9e of blue.'"
•' •' Une continued, "So I came home and experimented until I
9 my own black skin color, and that was the turning point in
mce the Revolution there have been many changes in Nica-
9 Ua and in June's life. When she looks back upon her 52 years,
SANDINO AND THE WOUNDED EAGLE, 1978, oil on canvas
she says, "I never expected some of the good things that have
happened ...the achievement of painting something, when I have
the idea to do it, ...and to be free to paint what I want."
Besides selling her work with ease through ASTC, June has
received special awards in the annual July 19th exhibits of Nic-
aragua's artists. In 1983, she won the first prize for the portrait,
"Black Sandino". I found this painting and others at the Gran
Hotel Performance and Exhibition Center in Managua. Among
them was the "Fruit Vendors" The two women seem to converse
and laugh together as if they are enjoying a good joke or some
gossip. One woman holds a basket of mangos, the other avo-
cados. But it is their facial expressions, their open mouths re-
vealing carefully painted white teeth in contrast to their dark-
black skin, that seem to be the focus of this painting.
June concluded her story with these thoughts: "The goal that I
set for myself is also for my people. I would like to leave a
heritage for coming generations, a museum of paintings, here
"I want this museum to include the work of all the different
artists of Nicaragua. What I'm doing now is exchanging one of
mine for one of theirs, in order to make that collection of paint-
ings. I have a long way to go, but I'll make it."
At the stroke of midnight on March 14, 1986, June Beer suffered
a heart attack and died at her home in Bluefields. At her chil-
dren's request, there was a service for her at the Moravian
Church in Bluefields. Padre Ernesto Cardenal, Nicaragua's Mini,
ister of culture, attended and read some of her poetry.
( What are your greatest
| pleasures in activism?
tis your criteria for sua
To be taken seriously. The moment government actually consid-
ers hearing both parties: NATO and the Peacemovement . In a
democracy, people have the right to be heard.
Vrouwen Tegen Kernwapens, The Netherlands
I love the feeling of being obsessed, of putting all my time and
energy into one activist art project, and saying "no" to every-
thing else in my life. I find that kind of intensity very energizing,
at least for the short time. Unfortunately, being obsessed to that
extent puts great strains on personal relationships at home. In
addition, I experience incredible "post-project depression" when
the event is over.
Donna Grand Slepack
There are inner joys of getting under the skin of one's own peo-
ple and sharing their pain and struggle. Sometimes there are
tangible results to gauge some measure of success. For instance,
the first big campaign against sex tourism resulted in a drastic
reduction by 25-35% of male tourists from Japan, the closure of
two flights daily from Tokyo to Manila, changes in ads, etc.
Sister Soledad Perpinan, Philippines
My greatest pleasure is the same as my criteria for success'
namely, to see women develop their own power.
I don't think "success" is a very appropriate term to me. You can
be in the midst of struggle or not in the midst. The pleasure of
being in the midst of struggle is that there are often others there
My greatest pleasure is reaching out beyond myself. One of the
most seductive traps of our dominant ideology is the myth of
individualism, both fanning our egos and isolating us. Art His-
tory of the 20th Century, as it is written, is like an ode to this
myth. It is no accident artists are particularly plagued with it.
Success is empowerment. Success is active, moving from being
spoken for and done to, to speaking and doing.
Seeing effort bring a kind of result: Seabrooke is not on yet; Viet
Nam did end; abortion is still available; Reagan is not quite in
Nicaragua but he is busting his butt.
In a way, the interaction with other women is the greatest plea-
sure, but I guess I'd measure success by how much trouble you
stir up and how uncomfortable you make people. Joyce Kozioff
Sensing and seeing the empowerment of activists ourselves. Act-
ing, doing something together, gives us energy, hope, even joy.
My criteria for "success" have changed considerably during the
last decade: I now believe that acting on behalf of justice is a
moral end in itself. At the same time we need to be politically
clever, astute and well informed in order to increase our chances
of impacting social structure.
I love when I can wheat paste graffiti art for life, hope, peace,
growth, choice... in a public space and on the street so people
are confronted unexpectedly with some information that can reach
a gut level.
Helping to maintain a feminist business that pays "30 + " part-
time employees per month.
The mental stimulation and excitement of serious theoretical
collaboration ... achieving (and being able to recognize) success
. . . winning concrete gains when there is a worthwhile cost/benefit
Seeing my ideas implemented... with fundraising my criteria is
25% profit. ..withpeopleit'sgettingawarmwelcomeandawarm
farewell and seeing my quotes and influences in books.
Margo St. James, Coyote
an excerpt from the performance*
■f /How to realize the substance of your own life while re-
taining some perspective on the flow of, well, history.
A decade spent on the question whether we can change our-
selves and the way things are by willing it. (What role does
consciousness play?) A mistake was to get stuck in remaking
the cultural, slighting its bases. It is true that people decided to
change things. It is true that now it seems like everything we
achieved, inadequate and distorted as some of it was, is to be
revoked by the radically reactionary regime. Hard to under-
stand that the scale of change exceeds the scale of a person's
life. She realizes she is, they are, a decade older and in some
ways still the persons they decided not to be any more. It is true
also that he (and he, and he) has learned a lot about How to
Think About Women. The truth is, it's hard to make changes
stick. Yet things change. (Nuns sue their bishop.) All things
change. ('Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will' be-
comes a consoling slogan.)
Times change, people move. There is the question of ego.
/'Mobility.' The development of self. The self, learning to cut itself
off from others, looks for its best setting, like a jewel.
2/ She had moved to California a decade earlier to find a
breathing space, away from city struggle, pollution, high rents
— and found real estate, urbanization, pollution, high rents. Peo-
ple moved in together, in groups. (Later the two of them, now 'a
couple,' move in alone.) You make a household, apportion tasks,
make things rational ... But the self is not rational (as women
learn). Easy to console yourself with certain notions of human
nature, some of them bad, oppressive, when you get scared,
;: bored, angry. When change is demanded by your friends, when
iaccommodation is necessary Or — let's come to the point — when
-change was demanded by his lover, he found it easiest to re-
press. The point is that men and women are still men. and.
; women. She worries. He represses. It is worthwhile, she thinks,
'to rummage through their unspoken deal.
3/They each question the nature and possibility of unity. Was
political unity, to pick a safer, worldly example, a fiction smooth-
ing the way for a most extreme individual privacy, defined by
the notion of 'choice?' Or, conversely, did unity mean a total
loss of choice? Or was it a struggle! within and without, inside
the group, against it as well as for it, for a perhaps only Utopian
collaborativeness-in-general, to occasion individual freedom?
Easy for him: he misunderstood the struggle against domination
to be a struggle for raw freedom. It was not. It was an abstract
struggle for the right to freedom, and thus implicitly demanded
a commitment to a long collective effort. The freedom to give
oneself freely to something without bondage. But he could not
even consult with her about doing the laundry. Often their soli-
darity was enacted on the level of fantasy.
. 4/ He uses words that interest her: truth, weakness. Curiously
old-fashioned for a 'reformed' man. But his old self longed for
ttie conservative stability of family and class. He could not effect
a synthesis. He is stubborn in protection of his private self. They
, fry to talk. He is angry to be seen as angry. The truth is, you
could tell her anything about herself, and she'd believe it. (Easy
to criticize the 'counterculture's' commune life; but why dismiss
tne effort to create a self freer in the give and take?) Years of
-struggle have shown her she struggles with the same depend-
encies as ever — yet it is human to need support. Paradoxically,
-,she has come to believe more and more in the possibility of
-- As a child he had taken a vow of silence. By being silent he
Was free to make any judgment whatsoever. ..The breathtaking
CONSTRUCTING A LIFE
advance in freedom meant a certain loss of potency in the world.
Still, he would endure. It was their custom.
5/She imagines that by moving on, she will make a better,
changed self. She is adventurous and cowardly, a rotten combi-
nation. She moves East while the balance of profits moves West.
She discovers what it means that bankers and real-estate oper-
ators have captured New York, her hometown. No longer a
hometown, now it is a monstrous machine for speculation and
the gratification of the rich. A machine of success and failure in
the public world. One tries to advance while keeping one's com-
mitments, confronting the usual issue of selfinterest versus de-
cency. The difficulty of erecting a life in the debased context of
high finance and planned urban collapse. Whom do you dis-
place by moving to Brooklyn, Astoria, the Lower East Side?
Harder and harder to have the freedom to do your work, with-
— Martha Rosier *~
out someone's fortune to support you, without some grave com-
promise. The city uses artists as wedge against the poor, creating
new real estate that will displace them too, the swelling army of
dispossessed. (Policy advisers say we suffer from too much de-
mocracy. Could we become a police state? That would suit some
people just fine.) He won't face his fears of New York City. He
suspects her of feeling exhilirated on the subway. She moves to
Brooklyn, after all. He comes to look, and flies home shaking his
head. He decides not to come. She flies West. She cries that he
is as impermeable as a rock in an ocean tide. Determined, he
endures. But unlike the rock she sees him as, he feels, hears,
sees. Wracked by unvented emotion, he chokes and shakes.
Calmer, he says, 'Behind every no there is a yes.'
6/The problem is how people can maintain commitment to
change and to each other. She returns East to start constructing
a life: We enter the new bleaker decade in which the matter of
freedom is reshaped. The wrong people try to patent the word
'freedom.' The new regime seeks renewed control and profits
and plays vicious world games with old words ('terrorism,' 'au-
thoritarianism,' 'totalitarianism'). More people than ever in the
world know the words mean life-or-death. The problem is how
to seek freedom while acknowledging that the unbridled self is
not free (or even the real issue). Through the decade the fashion
for cooperation faded. For him and maybe for her, without ex-
ternal support, cooperation was not a reflex but a matter of
persuasion, choosing one's own private interest undisturbed by
a wider vision. Each of them felt the strain. It seemed almost a
relief to part.
Back in Brooklyn where she started — what happened to the
decade? Well, she's, we've, learned a lot. The problem is how
to do one's work and work with others, not to fall away in private
defeat — or success. How to recognize that answers aren't given
in advance, that freedom must be fought for, that change takes
longer than a lifetime. The problem is how to live your life while
recognizing the scale of history. The problem is how to fight to
keep some things while learning how to keep others. The
MARTHA ROSLER is a visual, video, and performance artist living
and working in New York City.
W^VfSi'''0'"^ii •'■"^ V; ^ffi^7J%^
The Creative Politics of Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp
Artists are the traditional interpreters of dreams and nightmares,
arid this is no time to tumour backs on our chosen responsibili-
ties, which is what we would be doing if we refused to share in
the deep anxieties, terrors, and hopes of human beings every-
where. What is the choice before us? It is not merely a question
of preventing evil, but of strengthening a vision of a good which
may defeat the evil.— Dons Lessirig'
The creation of the Women's Peace Camp at Greenham Com-
mon NATO Air Force Base in southern England, although not
your ordinary museum piece, is a work of art— -one which is a
product of the heights of human creativity. The very name
"Greenham Common" has become synonymous with the peace
camp rather than the military base.
In searching for the artist, or creator, of Greenham, one might
consider Anne Pettif, who organized a protest march against
Cruise missiles 2 from Cardiff in Wales to the Greenham Com-
mon military base, located 50 miles west of London, in the late
summer of 1981 . But very quickly one would also discover that
Greenham was also created by the 36 women and four men
who made up the march. They, like Anne Pettit, were "worried,
anxious, and isolated" (words familiar to all artists) about the
threat of nuclear missiles and wanted to express their feelings in
a visible, public way. When they arrived at the end of their ten-
day march, four of the women decided to chain themselves to
the fence surrounding the base and swore to stay there until the
British Minister of Defense would discuss the Cruise issue on
live television with them. 3
Regardless of who was "first," the creation of Greenham is,
by no means, finished. It is still being created today. An open,
evolving work in a perpetual state of flux, Greenham is a lead-
less entity of women (men visit but do not live there or take
oart in the actions). It ranges from small handfuls of camper-
activist-creators to tens of thousands who come to take part in
the large, organized political events occurring there year-round.
If you pulled up the international peace movement of the '80s
hy its roots — firmly planted in the soil of human collectivity
—you'd find Greenham Common. The first of 1 02 peace camps
in Great Britain, it has served as paradigm and inspiration to
activists throughout the world.
In September 1981, when the first camp was spontaneously
set up at the main gate to support the four women chained to
■the fence, the base commander strode out to utter the fateful
'underestimation: "As far as I'm concerned, you can stay as long
as you like." 4 Since that time, thousands and thousands have
s'sfayed, sometimes a day, sometimes for months, at one or sev-
eral of the nine campsites at each of the gates around the base.
If you go there, you will find at least a small band of "the peo-
ple who never give up" gathered at each of the color-identified
nates (named for the colors of the rainbow by Greenham
women). 5 Soon it will occur to you that you are not just an ob-
server. By being there, by seeking it out, you have already taken
. ,d stand at some level and become a part of the flow that is
The lifestyle in the camps is, both of necessity and by ideol-
ogy, extremely spartan. Ideologically, dependency on the mod-
Kern "necessities" of life is seen as a predatory attitude, cultivating
greed and competition. But the campsites are also kept porta-
ble for another reason: eviction. There is a consistent effort by
local and national governments to silence or disperse the
women. Bulldozers are brought in, cars are impounded, camps
' demolished, women arrested. But Greenham continues — it re-
- fused to go away.
As a newcomer, you'll be attracted by the camp's welcoming
spirit. Drawn to the campfire, where hot water for tea and meals-
in-a-pot are made in charred-black pans, you'll begin to take in
the scene. Plastic is thrown over branches (carefully so as to
■ avoid damage to trees) — and these "benders" are home. There
• are no toilets. Only a few lawnchairs. But banners strung in the
air or on the fence nearby convey messages of peace and po-
*etry. As you look about, or sit on the ground with your cup of
.'. tea, the assaults on your mind are from the explosions of con-
' It's too barren here/where are their "things"? Who is the
, leader/they don't have one. Where do they sleep/there aren't
enough tents. What do they eat?/where is the food?/does it just
appear?/No one is worried/am I?
', What is the magnet that draws new people to the peace camp
---every day? It is something that, in the mainstream of daily life,
could be called an endangered species: imagination. Again and
% again, when one reads about or talks with people who have
•- been there, there is reference to Greenham's ability to "cap-
;, ture" the imagination. For Greenham is a studio of imaginative
-'-ideas for actions. Like politically conscious artists, these women
•' are driven not just because they have fears (they do), but be-
cause they are not afraid to imagine.
* . With direct action as the medium and nonviolence as the con-
~ tent, their civil disobedience defies categorization (some actions
-;seem to be activist art, others more like artistic politics, still oth-
- ers theatrical performances). The Greenham women invade ter-
> Tories of art and politics with equal irreverence, and their joyful
'-.smashing of decorum has become the banner of a new form.
by Carol Jacobsen
Whatever their title, Greenham's designs are contributions to-
ward structural change. They have a directness and a commu-
nicative accessibility that stem from a desire to bring both art
and politics out of their class and out of their "high art" and
"international politics" towers.
The ideas for actions may be anyone's, even yours, although
no one is expected to participate unless they want to. The ideas
are discussed, sometimes altered, often sent around to the other
gates (to avoid "gatism" — the hoarding of plans or informa-
tion). There are frequent evening gatherings, with discussions
held in a circle to allow all voices to be heard and to encourage
listening and equal participation. The intention is to share knowl-
edge and to teach each other in a supportive, nonhierarchical
way. There are almost no solitary actions, but there are many
with only a few people, and some with large numbers. All are
pieces in the expanding collage of world-wide nonviolent con-
frontations that have brought disarmament to life.
As you walk from gate to gate along the nine miles of fence
surrounding the base, you can see evidence of these actions.
Some bunkers and buildings have huge whitewashed signs that
read "For Rent"; others are covered with peace and woman
symbols. The fence itself is pinned with pictures and messages
of peace, and it has become a literal patchwork, woven to-
gether by the soldiers who must constantly repair the damage
done by Greenham women. Rejecting this barrier that sepa-
rates inside from outside, the women cut through, crawl under,
or climb over the nine-foct-high chain-link enclosure topped
and reinforced by rolls of barbed wire, In their almost nightly
forays, they have occupied watchtowers and sentry boxes for
hours at a time, even sending out signals undetected. They move
about on base, raiding kitchens, planting flower gardens, stag-
ing sit-ins, and holding performances. In one action ashes were
scattered everywhere by women dressed in black; in another, a
"Teddy Bears' Picnic" was held with women dressed in animal
CAROL JACOBSEN is an artist and activist for women's rights and
a feminist point of view on international issues.
costumes and children in attendance.
There are also persistent efforts to sabotage machinery and
supplies on base in daring attempts to point out the kinds of
violence taken for granted by soldiers and usually kept invisible
to the public. In July 1983, following a NATO exhibition and
sale of air arms on the base, eight women threw red paint and
scrawled "LIFE" and woman symbols on the spyplane "Black-
bird." For their vandalism they were thrown in jail, but the
charges were quickly dropped in a coverup by both the Ameri-
can and British Air Force, neither of whom was willing to accept
responsibility for this embarrassing exposure of their guarded
myth of "security." 8
• ome actions are spontaneous. There are, for example,
"flying blockades," in which campers hurl themselves into
kthe path of arriving equipment or officials. Or they may
'block the passage of trucks loaded with Cruise missiles
in supposedly secret deployment rehearsals. In one incident, a
convoy got itself stuck in a narrow lane for hours, giving its own
"demonstration" of the fallibility of careful, expert military
Other ideas take advance planning, as when the women
sealed the entire base with heavy-duty locks. After unsuccess-
fully attempting to cut the locks, and realizing that there were no
open routes in or out of the base, the soldiers themselves broke
down the fence to get out, and then later had to repair their own
All acts are kept as unpredictable as possible so that authori-
ties cannot plan ahead or formulate rigid responses. They also
change in style, scale, and form with the shifts in populations of
the camps and because of individual input. Effectiveness is mea-
sured in terms of the amount of disruption caused to military
discipline; the success in presenting moral choices to soldiers
and workers on base (such as whether they should carry out
orders that would injure the protestors); and the public visibility
produced by the action. 9
Reactions of military men have sometimes been violent
(women have been beaten), sometimes poignant (a group once
presented some campers with a hand-carved wooden stump
engraved with a peace symbol and mesages of hope), and
sometimes supportive (base workers have testified on behalf of
the women in the ongoing series of trials). The encounters have
also forced a reaction from the Air Force itself, which has had
to keep soldiers at Greenham on frequent rotation, has issued
orders against violence to the women, and has even awarded
achievement medals to some American soldiers for their en-
gagements in the peace "skirmishes."
In addition to this "barrage" of small-scale actions, there are
large events at Greenham, which bring an opportunity for cre-
ativity on a grand scale and are often scheduled to mark holi-
days or political occasions, including Greenham birthdays. The
first of several massive actions was held in December 1982.
Hoping for enough people to reach all the way around the base,
the Greenham network transformed itself into 30,000 women
who encircled the nine-mile fence and linked hands in an "em-
brace of the base." Then, at a festival in 1983, called "The Rain-
bow Dragon," 2,000 women gathered to put together a five-
mile-long serpent with patches sent from all over the world. It
was woven in and out of the base and later became a traveling
artwork to symbolize their demand for peace. Later, in Decem-
ber 1983, over 50,000 women gathered, each one holding a
mirror toward the base in a statement of self-reflection that was
both symbolic in its message and astounding in its scale.
One of the most celebrated actions — probably because of
the wildly controversial image it produced — took place on New
Year's Day in 1983, when 44 women climbed over the fence of
dawn and danced on the missile silos. The image, appearina i
commercial media throughout Europe, reverberated between
two usually opposing poles: life/celebration/female/art (the pho-
tograph looks like Matisse's Joy of Life) and death/burial
mound/male/politics (as in "step aside, leave it to us, this k
men's work"). ° A year later, in January 1984, the women cre-
ated another image by floating a huge web over the base with
From almost the beginning, Greenham women have carried
their message beyond the fence at the base. They have orqan-
ized blockades on the streets of London (to. protest the Falkland
War and to demonstrate against Ronald Reagan's visit, for ex-
ample). They have also traveled in small groups and lectured
throughout Europe, Asia, and the U.S. At times they have found
themselves on stage with military generals, who gave slide shows
and video-accompanied programs to pump the arms race, and
they have been asked to present the "other" side. 11 Many have
formed alliances with peace groups throughout Europe for the
purpose of organizing international actions. And Greenham-at-
large has initiated a lawsuit against Ronald Reagan and the
United States in U.S. Federal Courts for threatening peace and
illegally deploying Cruise missiles on British soil. 12
The work of Greenham has had a price for many of the
women. Some have lost jobs, left families, broken with friends;
over 3,000 have been jailed. Usually the charges are, ironically,
"breaching the peace." But the trials themselves become fo-
rums and theaters for peace, as well as opportunities for dis-
course on the ills of England. The scene at these trials brings to
mind Virginia Woolf's literary confrontation between "educated
men," the public fathers brought to power by the sacrifices of
their sisters and mothers, and the all-woman "Outsiders' Soci-
ety," whose creed is: "As a woman, I have no country. As a
woman, I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole
Both the courts and the prisons have served their purpose.
The publicity they generate does double-duty. Greenham and
PUS* 1 '
HP" f 3
its peaceful activism get coverage, while the injustice of archaic
laws and prisons becomes more visible as well. After one of the
early evictions from the camp in 1982, 400 women appeared in
court with affidavits declaring Greenham their home and de-
manded their right to vote there. They were awarded residency. 6
In a different instance, at Holloway Prison, six Greenham women
climbed out onto the roof and protested treatment of the in-
mates there. They were again arrested and tried, this time for
inciting a riot, but they were found not guilty. They then held'
'. their own mock trial on the courthouse lawn, where they made
public the coverup of a death at the prison.
Greenham is not without its detractors, however, even among
feminists. A critical anthology has been published by radical
British feminists criticizing "The Greenham Syndrome," which it
sees as usurping women's energies for their own struggles into
the "greater cause" of peace. In the past "greater causes" have
repeatedly swept women and their specific oppression under
the.tide of human or global issues. This analysis fears a divisive
factor moving women away from themselves.
/•''. Other criticisms are based on Greenham's motherhood/ care-
-taker image, which was largely constructed by the media in its
;"biology-is-destiny" logic, or the later lesbian image, also a
: media creation, which arose out of homophobic attitudes. Both
of these distortions gloss over the real diversity of Greenham
women in an attempt to rush in with inadequate language to fill
■ the gap that inevitably occurs between habitual thinking and
There is a strong, overriding concern shared by almost all the
.women at Greenham, which serves as a motivating force: fear.
fTheir fears and the nightmares are the same ones that haunt
^millions of us: the threat of total and irrevocable annihilation of
:"our species and our planet, either by design or by accident. We
have all been exposed to statistics and warnings of crisis: there
would be a 90% death rate within 30 days of the onset of nu-
clear war; 49% of the British people think a nuclear war is likely
in their lifetime, and 87% believe that they would not survive if it
occurs; the Pentagon operates on the assumption that a nuclear
war will occur in the next 10 years; the world is spending a
million dollars a minute on arms — with over 50,000 (known)
nuclear warheads — enough to destroy the planet and have
49,000 left over. 18
of us are victimized by tactics meant to support the
.pretense that the arms race is a safeguard for peace.
But the fact is that the increasing buildup of nuclear
arms and energy is matched by an increasing danger
of radiation exposure for humans and the environment. There is
a growing problem of radioactive waste disposal and an ever-
increasing chance of planetary destruction by an irreversible
poisoning of our ecosystem.
The entire support structure for the perpetuation of war — kept
intact by bureaucrats and politicians who see nations as
empires — is drilled in the tautology and pathology of violence
and power. Words like "honor," "victory," "patriotism" are the
prescriptions for emotional release, which might otherwise erupt
in questioning or examining or even raging against an obedi-
ence to masochistic destruction. The scale and pervasiveness of
legalized power claimed by this mentality, and the threat and
abuse it represents, both against itself and the "other," are all
enough to justify fears in the ability of humans to have a future.
But it is precisely a new vision of the future that Greenham
women and others like them are now actively creating. They do
not see the future in terms of massive institutions and nations of
profit built on space-age technologies, which are only world-
exploiting strategies. Nor do they see global markets and eco-
nomic charts as gauges of "progress" or as values-in-themselves,
when in reality the northern hemisphere is cannibalizing and
enslaving the southern hemisphere. 21 What they do see is the
need for radical revisions in lifestyles and in thinking; the ur-
gency of confronting — with nonviolence and with empathy
— those they refuse to call "enemy"; and the potential of change
•and creative solutions within every individual.
Virginia Woolf wrote: "We can best help you to prevent war
not by repeating your words and following your methods but by
■finding new words and creating new methods." 22 This sentence,
printed on one of Greenham's most popular posters, is em-
blematic of the commitment of these creative activists to mold-
ing nonviolence into a force for change.
'Doris Lessing, A Small Personal Voice (New York: Vintage Books, 1975)
2 Cruise missiles have fins and wings, fly close to the ground in order to
avoid detection by radar, and are propelled by a rocket or jet motor. There
are several types: air launched (ALCM), sea launched (SLCM) and ground
launched (GL.CM). The 96 Cruise missiles now installed in the silos at
Greenham Common Air Force Base are the ground-launched type and
have a range of 1 ,500 miles, a target probability circle of 1 ,000 yards, and
contain nuclear warheads of 200 kilotons. American contractor is General
3 Greenham Women, The Greenham Factor (London: Greenham Print Shop,
1983) p. 1; Barbara Harford and Sarah Hopkins, eds., Greenham Com-
mon: Women at the Wire (London: The Women's Press, 1984) pp. 1-8.
4 Harford and Hopkins, p. 17.
5'The People Who Never Give Up," Newsweek, Aug. 20, 1984, pp. 6-7.
^Greenham Women, "Greenham Common", Women's Encampment Re-
sources Handbook, Women's Encampment at Seneca, eds. (Seneca: The
Handbook Committee, 1983) p. 27. For specific examples of brutality to
Greenham women by police or soldiers, see for example, Ann Snitow,
"Holding the Line at Greenham" Mother Jones, Vol. X, No. 11, Feb./Mar.
1985, p. 47; Harford and Hopkins, pp. 146, 162.
'Lynchecombe, At Least Cruise is Clean (London: Niccolo Press, 1 984) pp.
20-40. Petra Kelly, Fighting for Hope, London: The Hogarth Press, 1984)
8 Harford and Hopkins, p. 156.
9 For a dateline and list of actions, see Harford and Hopkins, introduction.
'"Lucy Lippard, Issue: Social Strategies by Women Artists (London: Institute
of Contemporary Art, 1980) p. 13.
" The group that toured in the U.S. was followed, intimidated and terrorized
by U.S. Government agents throughout their trip. See Harford and Hop-
kins, pp. 126-131.
12 The suit was filed in U.S. Federal District Court on November 9, 1 983, on
behalf of Greenham Women, by the Center for Constitutional Rights and
two U.S. Congresspersons.
i3For an analysis of structure and methodologies of Greenham's style of
networking, see Lynne Jones, ed., Keeping the Peace (London: The Women's
Press, 1 983) pp. 131 -1 52. For a relevant analysis of the innate order aris-
ing out of chaotic innovation, see llya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers,
Order Out of Chaos (Toronto: Bantam Books, 1984).
'■"Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas (London: The Hogarth Press, 1938) pp.
122-126. For a contemporary documentation of the poverty in England,
especially among the working class, see Beatrix Campbell, W/gan Pier
Revisited: Poverty and Politics in the 80's (London: Virago Press, Ltd., 1 984).
'SHarford and Hopkins, pp. 109-112.
'^Brenda Whisker, Jacky Bishop, Lilian Mohin,TrishLongdon, Breaching the
Peace (London: Onlywomen Press, Ltd., 1983).
,7 Alice Cook and Gwyn Kirk, Greenham Women Everywhere (London: Pluto
Press, Ltd., 1983) pp. 91-107; Ruth Wallgrove, "Press Coverage" Spare
Rib, No. 142, May 1984, p. 21. Gail Chester, et al, Piecing it Together:
Feminism and Nonviolence (London: The Feminist and Nonviolence Study
Group and War Resisters International, 1983) pp. 46-49. Snitow, pp. 32,
46. For an analysis of the "biology is destiny" logic, see Simone de Beavoir,
The Second Sex (New York: Vintage Books, 1974) pp. 3-68.
^Jonathan Schell, The Fate of the Earth (New York: Avon Books, 1982)
pp. 56-59. Dr. Helen Caldicott, lecture given at The University of Michigan,
March 11, 1985. Penny Strange, It'll Make a Man of You (Nottingham:
Mushroom Books, 1983) pp. 5-8, 24. Cook and Kirk, pp. 11-25.
19 The Pentagon acknowledges more than 35 nuclear accidents and over
100 incidents involving nuclear weapons over the past 30 years.
20 See, for example, Rick Atkinson, "Scientists, in Pentagon's Sleaziest Job
Rehearse World War III to Test Effects," The International Herald Tribune
June 1 3, 1 984, p. 7, and Ian Mather, "Pigs Shot in War Games," The Ob'
server, March 17, 1984.
21 Michael Redclift, Development and the Environmental Crisis (London-
Methuen Co., Ltd., 1 984) pp. 20-59. Krystina Stimakovits and The Confed^
eration of African Women, "Arms and Food" Spare Rib No. 142 May
1984, pp. 52-55. ' r
22 Woolf, p. 164.
23 Greenham Women, "The Greenham Factor" poster. (London: Greenham
Print Shop, 1983).
24 Hannah Arendt, On Revolution (Middlesex: Penguin Books, Ltd., 1962)
25 These include the Shibokusa women of Japan, the Dutch Women for
Peace, Petra Kelly of the Green Party in West Germany, Dr. Helen Caldicott
of Australia, the Seneca Women's Encampment, and the Women's Penta-
gon Action in the U.S. For a more complete list, see Jones, and The Cam-
bridge Women's Peace Collective, My Country is the Whole World (London: :
Pandora Press, Ltd., 1984). Jones, pp. 1-6.
26 Mohandas Ghandi, quoted in Greenham women, The Greenham Factor
compiled by Gwyn Kirk
Addresses for Women's Peace
CCSBTJDS If! the U.S. (some former peace camps
are now working as affinity groups).
Ann Arbor Women's Peace Encampment, 1416 Hill St., Ann Arbor,
Big Mountain Support Camp, c/o Kee Shay, Box 203, Oraibi, AZ
Blue Ridge Peace Valley, c/o Box K, Bluemont, VA 22012. Tel.: (703)
554-8707 or (202) 234-2000.
Minnesota Women's Camp for Peace and Justice, c/o Women Against
Military Madness, 3255 Hennepin Ave., S. Minneapolis, MN
55408. Tel.: (612) 827-5362.
Puget Sound Women's Peace Camp, PO Box 22756, Seattle, WA
Seneca Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice,
#5540, Route 96, Romulus, NY 14541. Tel.: (607) 869-5825.
Silence One Silo, PO Box 9203, Missoula, MT 59807, or c/o Spe-
cies Life House, 401 E. Spruce St., Missoula, MT 59807.
Silicon Valley Peace Encampment, c/o Mary Kline, 160 Lincoln St.,
Palo Alto, CA 94301.
Tucson Peace Encampment, c/o Casa Maria, 410 East 26th St., Tuc-
son, AZ 85713.
Women's Peace Camp, Alameda Naval Air Station, c/o de Kita,
1835 Clay St. #302, San Francisco, CA 94109. Tel.: (415) 441-6238.
Women's Peace Encampment, Savannah River Plant, c/o Athens
WILPF, Georgia University Station, Box 2358, Athens, GA 30601.
Women's Peace Presence to Stop Project ELF, c/o Madison Peace
Office, 731 State St., Madison, Wl 53703. Tel.: (608) 257-756;.
Catherine Alport, We Are the Web. New York: Seneca Photo-
Alice Cook & Gwyn Kirk, Greenham Women Everywhere, boston.
South End Press, 1983.
Barbara Harford & Sarah Hopkins (eds.), Greenham Lommo, .
Women at the Wire. London: Women's Press, 1984.
Lynne Jones (ed.), Keeping the Peace, London: Women's Press, w
Pam McAllister (ed.), Reweaving the Web of Life, Philadelphia: New
Society Publishers, 1982.
Jane Meyerding (ed.), We Are All Part of One Another: A Barbara
Deming Reader. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1984.
Participants of Puget Sound Women's Peace Camp, We Are Ordi-
nary Women, Seattle: Seal Press, 1985.
Ann Snitow, "Holding the Line at Greenham," in Mother Jones,
America: From Hitler to MX, by Joan Harvey (16mm). Distributed by
Parallel Films, 314 W. 91 St. NY, NY 10024. Tel.: (212) 580-3888/
Carry Greenham Home, by Beeban Kidron & Amanda Richardson
(16mm & video, 66 mins.). Distributed by Women Make Movies,
19 W. 21 St., New York, NY 10010. Tel.: (212) 929-6477.
•; Commonsense: Greenham/Actions/1982, by Gwyn Kirk (video, 40
mins). Contact: Greenham Women Against Cruise Missiles, c/o
^Women's Pentagon Action, 339 Lafayette St., New York, NY 10012.
■:ior Life's Sake, Let's Fight (filmed at Greenham, 1982) byMarga-
i reta Wasterstam (16mm & video, 60 mins.). Distributed by Women
£ Make Movies.
look to the Women for Courage (stories from the Seneca Encamp-
ment for Peace and Justice), by Joan E. Biren (tape/slide show).
Contact: Washington Peace Center, 2111 Florida Ave. N.W., Wash-
^ ington D.C 20008.
Louder Than Our Words (women and civil disobedience), by Lydia
a Pitcher & Harriet Hirshorn (video, 36 mins.). Distributed by Women
ft Make Movies.
Mushrooming at Greenham Common, by Margaret Gosden (a se-
ries of monotypes inspired by the women at Greenham). Avail-
able for exhibition from the artist, 33 Ocean Ave., Massapequa,
NY 11758. Tel.: (516) 798-4401.
Stronger Than Before (Seneca, Summer 1983), by Boston Women's
Video Collective (video, 27 mins.) Distributed by Women Make
Perhaps they would seem different
in color on the family room T.V.
Rows of skulls in black and white
hold an order not unlike tumblers
in the cabinet. Behind these skulls,
bones, which once defined the stride
of humans, are stacked like knives
and forks waiting in drawers.
I have a son of fifteen whose voice
reaches for its pitch in the same way
the Cambodian boy's voice reaches
for a steady tone. I hear instead
that sound beyond pain as he tells
the film crew how this just uncovered find,
this order of skulls holds father,
grandmother, and mother.
When he was nine death came daily.
I put plates and dishes on the table
just like I do every day. Not blinking
he tells, "We were children without play.
Watching death was our recess,
war our education." He speaks of children
whose eyes went blank as the eye sockets
I remember being an American woman
in the sixties. Every evening I cooked
while American boys came out of a jungle.
I remember pouring out gravy while one
recoiled and fell among the trees.
A boy from my high school died that day
In my American kitchen in the eighties,
I have no answer for that Cambodian boy
whose voice is far past accusation.
I long to turn off the deaths in Lebanon
and eat with my family in air free
of horror. Over the decades, so many,
too many have died in black and white.
WCTORIA GARTON has been writing poetry for eleven years.
. J x Work has appeared in over forty literary magazines, including
heresies #13, Feminism and Ecology.
In his recent book, Street Art 1 , Allan
Schwartzman reminds us of the ancient
relationship between art and politics.
Under the leadership of Pericles, the cen-
tral building of the Acropolis, the Parthe-
non, was built by misappropriating the
Greek states' international defense fund.
Though he built the Parthenon as a mon-
ument to democracy, Pericles had be-
Two thousand years later, government
remains active in the public art process
through patronage and the issuance of
permits. Who the public is and their role
in the process often becomes misappro-
priated by government representatives
and arts professionals in the selecting,
funding and granting of permits in the
public arts process. Panels who are mak-
ing decisions on behalf of the "public"
often attempt to represent common con-
cerns and tastes. Because the public is
intangible and virtually undefinable in
terms of having one point of view, often
"easy" art like Muzak prevails. For these
reasons, compromise is often expected
of artists working in a true public
— "democratic" — situation.
The notion of beauty as standing for a
truth higher than ourselves, and art as
beauty, is no longer totally valid as the
sole purpose of the artist. Artists wishing
to make a public statement, be it a sculp-
ture in a plaza, the facade of a building,
functional amenities, graffiti, ephemeral
installations or a parody of Madison
Avenue propaganda, have a great deal
to contend with. A plurality of intentions
and concerns exists amongst artists
choosing to work in the public environ-
ment, varying from pure aesthetics to an
intent to heighten public awareness.
In the late 1970's, a political art started
to emerge in New York City. Artists, both
formally and informally trained, took to
the streets. Their clandestine efforts were
seen on subways cars and in neighbor-
hoods throughout the city in the form of
JENNY DIXON is the former director q>f the
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
graffiti, stencils, posters and xerox im-
ages. Fashion Moda was a nurturing
ground for this unauthorized, no permits
sought, type of public art. Collaborative
Projects, born at the same time, was made
up of artists who choose to work expedi-
tiously in an uncompromising public man-
ner. In a short time, the commerical
system embraced and perhaps co-opted
this new, often raw energy. However, the
official "purveyors" of public taste shied
away, offering only minimal exposure.
Jane Dickson, an artist active in Colab,
approached the Public Art Fund (PAF) in
1981 to develop an outlet for much of
this work on the Spectacolor screen, a
computer-generated billboard in Times
Square. Permission to use the sign at
reduced rates was granted by the owner
of Spectacolor, George Stombly, and
NEA funding was secured. An artist-
message ran for 1 minute, every 20 min-
utes, for 2 weeks. Despite controversy
about messages, which brought up the
issue of censorship, the project continues.
Perhaps the notion of censorship is
endemic to this type of public art. The
PAF had made a contract with George
Stombly, a sponsor and owner of the
Spectacolor screen (a commercial venue),
specifying his right to review and reject
any material prior to its being run. Artists
were made aware of this limitation.
Barbara Kruger was the first to be
censored. Her message equated the size
of a man's penis with the size of a coun-
try's weapon arsenal. The copy which
accompanied the images stated that the
hottest show in town was the 5:00 news.
Apparently Stombly did not review Kru-
ger's message prior to its being run. A
few days after the message had begun
running, Kruger realized that her image
was no longer being seen on the sign.
George Stombly said he had pulled
the message as a lot of people and
clients, though he couldn't name a spe-
cific one, had complained. However, peo-
ple at PAF replied that, according to their
agreement, it was his right to pull or ask
for changes in a message before it ran.
But it was quite another thing to pull the
artwork once it had begun. Press cover-
age, coupled with the PAF's efforts,
caused Stombly to back off and the piece
was returned to the screen to run in its
unabridged form. Stombly then began to
carefully monitor the computer images,
in storyboard form, before the computer
graphics part of the project had begun.
The issue of censorship was handled
differently by those involved in "Critical
Messages: The Use of Public Media for
Political Art by Women", organized by
Chicago's Artemesia Gallery for the
spring of 1984. Eighteen women artists
were invited by Artemesia curators to
design subway car ad posters. After set-
ting out very general guidelines, the Chi-
cago Transit Authority (CTA) rejected 10
out of the 18 pieces. Asked for reasons
of rejection, the CTA replied:
"The CTA's primary function is to move
large numbers of captive riders quickly
and inexpensively in an environment that
will not disturb them and that respects
the fact that they are a captive audience
while riding the CTA."
Unlike Kruger's succcessful resolution,
Artemesia took their case to the ACLU.
In this instance, the situation is not o
matter of tangible fear regarding loss in
profits, but rather government acting as
a purveyor of public taste. Normally,
citizens do not have a choice regarding
the ads they are exposed to, but the CTA
had decided to act on the public's behalf
in this case.
Regardless of the artist's intent, people
involved in the public art process need
to be simultaneously shrewd and diplo-
matic in seeking public approvals. The
title of the Artemesia project may have
caused undue paranoia amongst the
"purveyors of public taste". Seeking and
identifying a modern day Pericles within
the government, who is enlightened re-
garding the mass appeal of such art and
its power and intent to open minds, is
necessary though not always possible.
Public art of all sorts seems to thrive in
cities where there is a commitment at the
highest levels of local government.
Norman Steisel, former Commissioner
of the New York City Department of San-
itation, sanctioned and supported Mierle
Lederman Ukeles' "Touch Sanitation
project in his department. He saw the
benefit of promoting a project that hon-
ored the sanitation workers and edu-
mam ssssasa K^l&ffis^
Mm §111 eioiliii
H iH l Hil
rated the public about their crucial role
jn the life of the city. The Department of
Sanitation also asked Keith Haring to do
o series of buttons on the theme of "Don't
Be A Litter Pig", in spite of Haring's rep-
utation as a graffiti artist. The burtons,
and Haring's affiliation with the cam-
paign, were well covered by the media,
benefiting the department and its pro-
The word censorship is imbued with
aggression and anger in the accuser and
with suspicion and guilt in the receiver.
The legal system offers some recourse
for retribution, be it perceived censorship
or malpractice. However, in a situation
such as the one involving the Artemesia
Gallery, one needs to ask who is really
gaining in the proposed law suit? If
Artemesia wins its case, the CTA will
more likely be reluctant to allow future
artists to exhibit. They may, in fact, change
their whole public service advertising pol-
icies and guidelines for their subways
cars. Isn't the process of costly, time-
consuming litigation antithetical to the
original intent of the art and artist? Al-
though recourse is important — a rene-
gade artform deserves to thrive with the
non-legitimatized energy that created it.
1 Street Art, Allan Schwartzman, 1985, Dial,
Doubleday, Garden City, New York.
SV:. z.' :;l.-.rW
J an Ballard, WHITE STANDARD, mixed media photo mural, 41" x 52"
•he artist, who.lives and works in Chicago, has been influenced by Schwitters, Haacke, Beuys, and Breder
What particular frustrations
In the beginning people did not know what I was talking about. I
had to be on my toes all my waking hours, explaining, explain-
ing. Burnout is natural. After burnout activities become more
personal, more meditative. One acts in a less public, less visible
way. One does one's work and presents "development" and power
through one's own work. Miriam Schapiro
The biggest and stubbornest frustration in all movements I have
seen over the years has been the tendency to pull into groups
that end up fighting each other. This is how the disempowered
people of the world stay disempowered. To say this is to state
the obvious. The question remains: What must we leam in order
to treasure each other's differences and distinctions? How must
we retrain ourselves so as not to abandon the field when the
field is discouraging and we are bloodied? How might we stand
with each other in the service of transformation?
Burnout happens to people who work very hard and don't step
back enough and/or it happens to people who lose faith in the
struggle. My biggest mistake when I burned out was to step
back too far for too long. A rest is important. A permanant
vacation leads to cynicism and depression. Getting over-tired
can take you two ways: You can make a mess and get hurt, or
you might go through barriers and come out of it with something
extraordinary and creative that you never could have planned.
We need to watch out for each other, to pay attention to each
other. Co-workers need to care about one another and for one
another. Ronnie Gilbert
A. Anti-leadership attitudes and behavior in the Women's Liber-
ation Movement. B. Disunity and mistrust among those who are
in essential agreement. C. An inability on my own part to suffi-
ciently and quickly recognize the errors I am making. D. Op-
portunism in the movement. Judith Brown
I have often felt frustrated when trying to understand the fears
and passivity of some Latino women artists. Often the emotional
load they carry from social prejudice is so great that they feel
activism is one more burden. By joining in and being active they
are lightening their burdens and giving to the community.
The frustrations I have experienced pertain specifically to my
age. I have, in the past, found it rather trying to work with older
people who are often jaded or bitter from their own experi-
ences, as they seem to resent what they perceive to be my na-
ivete, in other words, enthusiasm. I keep coming back because
feminism takes on increasing relevance, importance and mean-
ing in my world view. Carrie Moyer
I feel at heart that the role of the US government has become
more reactionary, and that both internally and externally we face
hard times ahead. Many of the gains we made 20 years ago are
disappearing under current federal pressure; and since I was
heavily involved in those issues, I feel it as a real blow. But I am
aware that whatever affects me, the people who live in poverty
and hunger are the ones really affected by the viciousness of
this so-called democratic system where you are free to starve. I
have often felt I wanted to stop, but somehow it seems uncon-
scionable to not do whatever is possible at a given time. I be-
lieve we do make a difference.
Frustrations and burnout seem to come with the territory. The
first of these usually passes. Burnout, on the other hand, often
signals the end to my active involvement with a particular issue.
It's one of the prices you pay for single- issue focus.
Concerning the economic struggle to be politically active, I found
a temporary solution. I sold my home so that I would have an
income and not have to work for a few years. Now I can go to
trials, do civil disobedience, write, make and pass out leaflets,
etc.; all which I did while raising six children, but it is easier now
as I am not so constantly exhausted. In exchange I have the
problem of a tiny income and a poverty level that prohibits cul-
tural and educational stimulation, which I really miss.
Don't waste time with frustrations — that takes energy— I'd rather
write a letter or make a call, go to a meeting or demonstration.
In order for any political movement to work, it must be brought
to a simplification of its purpose. I could not deal with the sim-
plistic attitude necessary. P' 11 ^ te,T
The greatest frustrations have been dealing with systems such
as welfare or housing, when I've seen someone's options seri-
ously reduced; i.e., no opening in a shelter for a battered woman
who finally got up the courage to leave her husband.
Burnout ...in the peace movement the bottom line is death and .
dying. Working with this subject on a daily basis causes me to
become numbed to the reality. I sometimes deny the possibility
of the extermination of all life, other times I become angry witn
others for not doing more. Macy Mo
we you experienced burn-
ai brought you back?
ie. . .;
burn out in the mid-Seventies, in my last years at WBAI
I was the Program Director. It was the combination of the
# en dous pressure of the job and what I began to see as the
?focra of , he left. Too many people were mouthing political
'mVjs for their own self-aggrandisement. More and more time
Sfspent in obsessing over political correctness than in getting
rthing accomplished. I realized I didn't want any part of it and
Ml had no enthusiasm for political work anymore, nor did I
Se much hope. That was the worst, I think, losing hope. And
becoming cynical. I retreated and would . I did fine as long as I
putting a mailing together or organizing publicity, but when
I had to sit in meetings and listen to people under the guise of a
collective and in the name of political correctness not get any
work done, I found I still had no patience. It wasn't until I acci-
dentally came upon the Cortazar group in 1983 that I knew I'd
bund a group to work with again.
I hate to attend meetings as the only woman, both in the church
and in the gay/lesbian community (both very male dominated). I
got tired of hostility from the church for being a lesbian and
hostility from women for being in the church. Antidote for burn-
out: Spiritual discipline; friends. Rev. Karen Ziegler
lwould have to say the general backlash against women's liber-
' ation (often confused with sexual liberation) which has been fos-
. tered by the media. Also, the regretably blase attitude among
the young that they already have it all (we who fought for these
benefits didn't get them) and that if a woman isn't successful, it's
• her own fault. Miriam Greenwald
-Unrealistic expectations (e.g., that the church will actually be-
come non-sexist; that people can simply unlearn racism, sexism,
•;classism, etc.; that Reagan is educable, etc.). Yes, I've experi-
• enced burnout. Good friends and a relentlessly determined faith
in the power of justice-making have brought me back.
We don't practice what we preach. Agendas get pre-set. We
. tot spend time on process; and when we do, it isn't as honest
as it could be. I get particularly frustrated with the California
syndrome that clusters around Judy Chicago ... one woman's proj-
-. «t presented under the guise of sharing that (instead) exploits
°*er women's time and talent. It's a terrible example that we all
Pay dearly for. Mary Beth Edelson
A sense of humor is very important ...usually it's a kind of gal-
kws humor. Holly Metz
Having been ignored and misread. One resists burnout by reit-
erating one's stance with new content. Nancy Spero
The major frustration I have experienced is lack of class aware-
ness in white middle class feminism and a corresponding lack
of feminist analysis on the part of leftists. The worst is when
male leftists think they have the authority to tell me about femi-
nism as when I was criticized for showing women doing "tradi-
tional" labor, rather than driving a truck, for International Women's
Day. I deal with burnout by being project-oriented, having a be-
ginning and an end and a short-term goal. The choice of the
next project is usually an attempt to deal with the failures of the
last, always attempting to increase the ratio of success to energy
expenditure. Robin Michals
Yes, I get frustrated. Then I eat a lot and read a lot of novels until
I get indignant about, or involved in, something else (or other
people drag me back). I also belong to an ongoing, varied semi-
nar of activists of one kind or another — that helps, group ther-
apy, support, friendship (central). Linda Nochlin
It is crazy that no organization wants 5 or 10 hours a week work
from people— it's always 50 or 60 or nothing. I am most dis-
tressed by the sick work habits and lifestyles of the left— no
sleep, no breaks, no personal support, no money. I spent four
months of last year begging for money that was owed me; angry,
tearful, hating people I adore. How can we struggle against a
fragmenting and dehumanizing society if our lives are all frag-
mented and dehumanized. Maybe an important quality in an
organizer is the ability to say "No, I can't do it."
I've been more frustrated by commentators who think Ms. Mag-
azine speaks for all feminists than just about anything else. Un-
like religion, feminism does not have any orthodoxies. I guess
I've dealt with my frustration by arguing that Betty Friedan no
more represents all feminists than Meir Kahane represents all
Jews. (That's a rather odious analogy, but I'll let it stand. I don't
mean, however, to imply that Friedan is a fundamentalist wacko.)
I've also been demoralized by single-issue feminists who were
against spending time canvassing for the E.R.A. through they
supported it in spirit. Carrie Rickey
Yes, I've burned out several times in the last 15 years. I come
back because I miss the excitement and pleasure of working
with other women and because I feel guilty after awhile just to
be pursuing my own life when things are so bad out there.
Interviews: Susan Woolhandler
During the Sixties I dropped out of col-
lege to organize soldiers at Fort Hood,
Texas. We hoped to convince them of the
immorality of invading Third World coun-
tries. The soldiers, most of whom had
recently returned from Vietnam, were
deeply disillusioned about U.S. foreign
policy. Hundreds of them joined in our
anti-war demonstrations. Unfortunately,
the local redneck population was less re-
ceptive, and tried to drive us out of town
by refusing to rent to us and firing bullets
through our windows. Today lama doc-
tor with a Masters in public health. I
have published several articles, some in
the New England Journal of Medicine,
on the injustices of the American health
system. I am active in the movement for
a national health care system and re-
cently delivered a paper on its feasibility
at the Socialist caucus of the American
Public Health Association.
I grew up in the deep south, the third
daughter of a Jewish doctor. My mother
ran one of the city orphanages as a vol-
unteer. We always had Black maids and
handymen about the house; they were
part of the family to me. Knowing these
people personally, I could never believe
that they were inferior to me or deserved
the lower sfandard of living they were
forced to accept. I saw the vast inequali-
ties of life between black and white and
knew that it was only because of unfair-
ness that they existed. In the deep south,
this inequality is often elevated to a
religious principle — that God intends
life to be unjust. I could never accept this
human callousness. Deep in my heart,
I believe that people can make a better
The inequities of racism are institution-
alized in the horrors of our privatized-
profit-by-any-method medical system. The
U.S. and South Africa are the only West-
ern industrial nations with such barbaric
health care systems. Recently I saw a
young, working Black mother of three
diagnosed with rheumatoid heart dis-
ease. Like many people, she was desper-
ately afraid of having the surgery that
could save her life. We worked to over-
come her fears about being in the hospi-
tal, away from her children and her job.
When a prominent heart specialist ar-
rived to evaluate her, he saw that she did
not have medical insurance and flat-out
refused to proceed with the patient. The
woman left the hospital sick, confused,
and upset, as you might expect. In order
to qualify for Medicaid, she would have
to quit her job. To add insult to injury, the
medical staff called a meeting to discuss
what to all too many of them was a big
mystery: Why did this woman leave so
angry and hostile?
I have worked with many community
groups to stop the cuts in Medicaid and
Medicare. However, Medicaid and Medi-
care were never great programs. At best
Medicaid covered only one third of poor
people's bills, Medicare covered half the
bills of the elderly. It's time to go for the
big one: a comprehensive health care
system like those of Canada, Sweden,
England — in short, every other country to
which we compare ourselves. We need a
system that would be completely free at
the time of use and available to every-
one. The amount of money our society
spends on health care is more than
enough to provide great health care for
all and fund prevention work in communi-
ties and plenty of medical research.
I am obviously not the typical doctor.
When I hang around "typical doctors," I
feel strange because I am not worrying
about how much money I make and
spend. I prefer to spend my time with
activists and other people who share my
values. Believe me, I have heard every
rationalization in the book for why we
than any other country in the world) on
an unjust medical scheme that leaves 35
million people without coverage. Person-
ally I think health care is a good way to
spend society's money, better than chem-
ical warfare, Pentagon overruns, or more
commissions to study commissions. But
the core of the matter is this: Profits can-
not come before people's health.
Of course I like myself, but I get bored
with people thinking I am greater than I
am. Social activism is not a question of
courage or bravery for me. There's no
cheaper way to have fun, is there? I don't
like to see activism placed on some ped-
estal so that people think it is difficult
and boring, and I don't like to see activ-
ists give themselves airs about how
wonderful they are. It is as natural to
work for the things I believe in as it is to
brush my teeth in the morning. Part of the
psychology of oppression is to mystify
these activities so ordinary people think
they can't participate.
People ask how I go on, but how does
any woman go on? Many women have
sex on impulse and end up changing
shitty diapers for three years. I go on like
everyone else, taking charge of the
responsibilities in front of me.
The Ladies Aid Crusade is attacking
the issue of day-care in the city. We are
asking employers and large building
complexes to help supply day-care to
their employees and the general commu-
nity. We are going to Donald Trump to
ask for day-care facilities in the latest
fantasy city to be erected on the Times .
Square wharfs. Donald Trump is the best ...
of the big developers; he has been very
generous with grassroots organizations.
He is our best hope. Helmsley, on the
other hand, is mean and arrogant.
I want to see women and men use
their economic power as consumers. We
are going to business and advertising
because these elements are more vulner-
able than the government in general.
Reagan and his pals have a hundred
strategies for manipulating, stalking and
co-opting citizen pressure, but they are
sensitive to business pressure. We hope
to get a War of the Roses going between
business and the government in the inter-
est of providing day-care. Every other
first-world country has better day-car i ■
than we do, even those countries less
sympathetic to feminism than America.
SUSAN WOOLHANDLER is a New York
City-based writer. Her The Good Book
Cookbook will be published in the fall
ay down over my father's motionless body
over my mother's funeral stone
j ^ down over my brother s open tomb
. 1( grew darker
the parade of greedy suns was nowhere
the choir of fallen angels inaudible
:j( grew darker
] danced over the men's altars barebreasted
■ ian naked toward the palace of the temples
and the poets were not sleeping
they had hung their dreams on the
scaffolds and left them
: That afternoon
vlspilled the nuclei of words that were left
sensed suspended voices in the ground
buried the sword
in an earth that had stopped moving
disappearing by the twenties
ripped apart by tens of hundreds
Stripped down naked in the plazas
it may be the bloody heat
someone runs and takes advantage
of more currency in marketplaces
they unhinge our thorax from our bodies
they are helping us indeed
we will sit in common graves
and toss around our heads
MARTTHELMA COSTA, born in Puerto Rico, has published poetry in
various Spanish- and English-language anthologies, magazines, and
newspapers. She teaches at Lehman College of the City University
of New York.
An interview with Kathy Goldm
by Blanche Wiesen Cook
Excerpted from two interviews aired on
WBAI in December, 1984 and February, 1986
Sophie Rivera, BAG WOMAN/SUBWAY, b/w photo, 8' x
The artist has won the Portfolio Photography Magazine Competition and has taught in community outreach programs.
B C.-Kaffiy Goldman, the founder and director of Community Food
Resource Network, is one of those wonderful people in this culture
who for a very long time have been providing food for the hungry
and have shown serious concern for the homeless. The number of
ooor people in America has increased by about 10 million since
1978. In a world where we are spending 800 billion dollars a year
hr milifory programs, one adult in three cannot read and one adult
m four is hungry. By way of introduction, Kathy, I want you to talk
about the Community Food Resource Center.
K.G.-The Center, a non-profit organization, was founded in Jan-
uary 1980 to address the issue of hunger in New York City. Our
real concern is the people who, because of lack of income,
because of unemployment, because of the incredibly split soci-
ety that we live in, cannot buy enough food to provide a decent,
nutritious meal for themselves and their families. And in New
■York City in 1986, we're talking about over 1,700,000 people,
■rnostly with families. A majority of that figure are children,
women and elderly people. We try to force the government into
providing better support for poor people who live in the kind of
poverty that cannot assure them reasonable nutrition on any
; But I want to talk about the issue of child nutrition programs,
so that you can understand how government support works. It
really does connect to the military. In 1946, the United States
started school lunch programs but not because anybody really
■ cared two hoots in hell about whether kids were eating well.
They were concerned because, during World War II, they found
they could not draft a lot of young people who physically did
not meet the army's requirements for getting killed somewhere.
That's the history of the school lunch program in the United States
—the reason for it. The cannon fodder would be better fed be-
fore it got to be cannon fodder.
Similarly, none of the so-called social programs, without which
there literally would be tremendous starvation in this country,
would be passed if they were perceived as welfare programs.
They pass if they support the milk lobby by buying up all that
damn milk which is overproduced, instead of letting it go on the
market and lower the price. The government guarantees to buy
the milk and turns it into miserable, oversalted, overpreserved
cheese that people have to stand on line to get. It's a welfare
; system for the agriculture business in this country.
For instance, you now find (if you know anything about the
* surplus food program) we're suddenly getting raisins up the
kazoo. Why raisins and prunes all" of a sudden? It's really an
interesting story. When Carter was President, the surplus was
~ peanuts. You couldn't use enough peanuts, peanut oil, peanut
- butter, peanut granules, and dried peanuts. And that's because
". peanuts come from the area he represented. Along comes our
California person and all of a sudden we've got prunes and rai-
.-. sins that we don't know what to do with. I got a call from a soup
" kitchen, and they said, "You know, we used to get some chickens;
- now all of a sudden we're getting prunes." It's been said that it's
an attempt to regulate the poor.
i It's clearly a support and welfare system on a very large scale
tor the old agriculture lobbies. The system has been turned
°round, and everyone who happens to be poor has been made
to feel guilty about getting any of the benefits of these programs.
B.C.-/ want to ask you to talk about the food program that has,
with the aid of computers, figured out that to survive a family needs
;- *57, $58 a week for meals. Is that it?
£>.' K-G.-That's the food stamp program. So you don't think that
they just arrive at some amount of money for food stamps off
the top of their heads — nutritionists in Maryland figure out the
least amount of food that a person needs to survive. They call
that the Thrifty Food Plan. I love the kind of words that these
people come up with. They plan a menu for a family of two,
three, four, whatever it is, and produce this little booklet called
"Make Your Food Dollars Count." It is then available to anyone
who wants it and contains menus. Theoretically these people in
Maryland go out and shop for this stuff and whatever it costs
then determines the amount of the food stamp allocation. In the
case of a family of four, this plan ended up costing $58 a week.
We went out and bought the same menu — and it's pretty lousy.
It cost $79.71 to buy the same thing in New York City, but there's
no adjustment for that. So a family of four who lives on food
stamps and public assistance falls behind $21 .73 every week.
Now, you figure it out for yourself; if every week you fell behind
that much, you'd be in a lot of trouble, and that's exactly the
story. These families are in trouble. That's why they come to
soup kitchens and emergency food pantries by the third week
of the month. They've only gotten $58 of assistance, and they
can't make it anymore.
B.C.— One of the figures you cite in your Community Food News
breaks down to 47 cents a meal. What kind of meal, you rightfully
ask? This is so mean-spirited. Let's look at what a Trident costs or
one of those little planes that are boom-booming over Managua
K.G.-Let me read you a couple of things from the Thrifty Food
Plan. This menu has one can of grapefruit sections, three scram-
bled eggs, and cinnamon toast. That's breakfast for a family of
four. Peanut butter and banana sandwich for lunch. Again, you're
supposed to cut a banana in three parts for three kids. This is
not the way people should live. You can sit in a lab and play
around and figure out exactly the amount of calories but you try
surviving on that amount. And that's the way a lot of people are
living. It's very hard for people who are fortunate enough not to
have to live that way to conceive of what it's like to have nothing
to fall back on every damn day; if you do turn to someone, it's
to a neighbor or a cousin or an aunt who doesn't have a lot
more than you do. You're dealing with an enormous population
out there that's not working. This society is not working well.
According to the numbers given out by the City of New York,
25% of the city's population is considered to be living in pov-
erty. That means a family of four is living on $10,600 or less.
Currently that is the poverty line. If you're living on public assis-
tance, you get about 83% of that. How can a family of four
living on $8,300 a year pay rent, get on the subway, buy clothing
or a pair of sneakers? Kids grow out of their shoes. Do you
know what Pampers or a diaper service costs? How do you
afford that? It's impossible.
Many people have a hard time believing the extent of hunger
and deprivation in this city, where you can walk around on Fifth
Avenue and see the most incredible kinds of wealth and then go
just a few blocks away and find people living in the kind of
poverty where the statistics translate into real life. I am not talk-
ing here about the 30 or 40 or 50 thousand homeless people
who are special cases. I'm talking mostly about people with
families. The people in the shelter system in this city actually
number some 4,000 families, including 17,000 children.
I'm really glad to be doing this interview on a women's pro-
gram because, to a large degree, the families we're talking
about are female-headed households that no longer have a
home. That's essentially it — a woman with two or three chil-
dren. In fact, the system is absolutely unprepared if there is a
man present. There are so few men present that they don't have
any place for them. The welfare hotel system is strictly for women
and children. To a great extent, the hotels don't allow men on
the premises, and even very good programs like the Red Cross
and a group called Women in Need in Manhattan just don't
have the facilities. It rarely happens that men are around, so
they don't knock themselves out to have the facilities.
Single-room occupancy housing has pretty much disappeared
in the last few years because the Koch administration has been
giving away a lot of tax breaks to developers, who are convert-
ing these places into condominiums. And no low income hous-
ing is being built at all because the federal government abso-
lutely has stopped supporting it. But it's more that a lack of
federal money. The fact is that they have allowed housing that's
really quite good to disappear or be made into condominiums,
if it's in a great location, or be abandoned in places like Brook-
lyn and the Bronx. So you have the situation on the Grand Con-
course in the Bronx, which has really good housing, built in 1920,
1930, quite new in comparison to the Lower East Side — and all
they do is put fake windows in, with flower pots painted on
B.C.-And they spent thousands of dollars on that.
K.G.-Hundreds of thousands of dollars to make it look like
someone lives there. Now we have a network of welfare hotels
and mass shelters. The shelters are in armories and places like
that, and some of them are quite terrible. The families are al-
lowed to stay during the day, but the men have to go out even if
it's zero degrees outside.
B.C.-And they don't have lockers. In fact, this is true for some
women's shelters as well. That's why people walk around with all
their possessions all day long and go back as late as possible into
those unpleasant shelters. They're nothing more than a cot and a
K.G.-People don't even want to go there. The reason people
go to Grand Central is that they're afraid of these places. A lot
of the people in the shelters are part of the group that has been
deinstitutionalized from mental institutions over the last few years.
Many of the people are afraid of each other and rightfully so.
It's a horrible system.
But I really want to talk more about the families. In New York,
whatever the reason, housing has disappeared. What happens?
People start doubling and tripling up. Now the city admits that,
in public housing, 19% of the families are doubled up. This is
unheard of. It's not even allowed. Whey they let something hap-
pen that's actually against the rules, something big is going on.
These people are afraid to move because where would they
go? You've got this situation where families, mostly women and
children, suddenly find themselves without any place to live. You
can live with your mother for a while or ask your neighbor to
take you in. Then, after a while, that becomes intolerable, and
you have to move out and go to one of the city's emergency
shelters. There is no place for the city to place you. The upshot is
that we've got this system of welfare hotels that are so horrible
it's hard to imagine them if you've never been in one.
B.C.-And, as you've pointed out to me and others, this is some-
thing the women's movement seems not to have responded to yet.
It's not part of our agenda. One of the reasons I've been so eager
to talk to you is that it has to become part of our agenda. We really
AAimi Smith, DON'T TURN BACK, 1985, «!
The artist livoi >.
have to become involved. It's unconscionable to live in a society as
rich and varied as ours is and to have homeless people, as if this
were Calcutta at the end of the empire.
I'd like to tell one story about how Kathy Goldman transformed
the way that I personally see homeless women. Onenightwelefta
very nice restaurant and right outside the door was a freezing young
woman, maybe 25. She said, "You know, can I have some money?"
and my instinct is always to give young or old women who are in
need some money. But Kathy didn't do that. Kathy said to her, very
vigorously, "Where are you going to spend the night?" This woman
was immediately transformed from somebody who didn't have a
particular face to somebody we had to conned and relate to. She
told Kathy where she might spend the night if she could get in. And
it dawned on me that, although there are some shelters, there are
so many homeless women that not everybody can get in. If this
young woman couldn't get in there, she'd have no place to go.
Kathy gave her a card and said, "If you can't get in, call this number.
I was impressed with the fact that each of us individually, it we
have more knowledge and greater awareness, can do more, bo
Kathy, what specific things can we do?
K.G.-I think that we have to take individual responsibility as we
walk around and lead our lives. You can't just keep passing
jj,198S,ihc!ia, 14" diameter, VH' deep
rtisl live*'«'l'orV: City.
these individuals by. If you see someone on the streets in the
daytime, there is a Human Resources Administration office in
f every borough, which will take care of people. If it's after five
lo'clock— as a result of the work of a lot of people— there are
Show four emergency assistance units in Queens, Brooklyn, the
Bronx, and Manhattan, run by the Human Resources Adminis-
tration. Believe me, they're not terrific but at least there families
can get formula for a baby and can stay warm while the city
% fries to place them somewhere.
Try to find the phone number in your borough, so you'll have
Lit with you when you see somebody as you're walking around.
At least you can give them a token and tell them this is where to
go or can call up a place that can help. During the day, the
Food and Hunger Hotline, a wonderful organization, helps con-
nect people with the nearest soup kitchen or food pantry where
they can get food. Their number is 406-2300. You can, in a pinch,
call the Community Food Resource Center at 349-8155.
B-C-You mentioned, at one point, that there's a shelter on Church
K.G.-That's one of the Emergency Assistance Units. If neces-
sary, people can stay there all night long. It's really a very strange
situation. For the most part, you don't see families with children
in the street. Though I will say, we run a community kitchen up
on 114th Street and two nights in a row a family— a pregnant
mother in her ninth month, ready to give birth, a 14-month-old
baby, and the father— showed up. Around Thanksgiving they
had lost the place where they had been living, and it was now
nearly Christmas. They had been wandering around ever since.
Up to the point when they came in to our place for some food,
they had been living on the A train at night.
I said to the woman, "Where are you going to have the baby?"
and she said, "I don't know, it depends...." In other words, it
would depend on where the train happens to be when she goes
into labor which hospital she would go to. It's absolutely unbe-
lievable that this goes on. You mentioned something the other
day about someone on their way to the 65th Street Armory who
had been released from a hospital.
B.C.-The very next night after Kathy and I left that restaurant, I
began to see with new eyes the reality of helping an individual
person. We saw a very old woman, very fragile, staggering on Park
Avenue. She had evidently just gotten out of a car or taxi. We went
over and asked, "Can we help you?"
She was looking for the big shelter on Park Avenue. We walked
her over there, she could hardly walk. She had just been released
from a hospital after having surgery and looked like she was still
coming out of anaesthesia. When we got her to the shelter, there
was some discussion about whether she was old enough to be
I said to the young man asking her these ridiculous questions— on
this freezing night as she was really about to fall over— "Aren't you
going to take this woman in, no matter what her age is?" He said,
"Maybe, maybe not." It turned out she had been there before, and
so he took her in and was very nice to her. But this is the story
—each one of these individual tragedies is a history to tell and to
write and to be outraged by. Every one of us does have a real
responsibility to look at what's going on with much more perceptive
and caring eyes.
K.G.- What you raised before is really the crucial thing. We know
that the women's movement has always been a middle-class
movement and has always been criticized because of that. But it
seems to me that, at this point, the women's movement has to get
its act together and begin to pay some attention as a group to
what's happening to other women. We can't allow 4,000 women
to live in these terrible, rat-infested, roach-ridden hotels, where
to get a roll of toilet paper they have to give 'sexual favors,' as
they're called, to the maintenance people. It's absolutely the most
degrading thing in the whole world. Where is the women's move-
ment? If NOW can be interested in equal pay— and I agree
that that is an important issue— they also have to pay attention
to what is happening to their sisters, whether they like it or not.
Their sisters really need help. Where is the outrage? Where are
the women who can do something about this systemically?
B.C.-We need organized protest and organized vision. We need
to write articles about this so we can deal with our representatives
who, it appears, aren't doing anything. Where are our public women
who can speak? There's a whole movement that has to happen,
and it is as important as the Peace Movement. In fact, it's the other
side of it, the result of some of our current failures and military
obsessions. The budget of the US Air Force is larger than the total
educational budget for the 1.2 billion children of Africa, Latin Amer-
ica and Asia, and this is 'a// coming home. It's not an accident that
this is happening in New York City and every city across the US.
K.G.-Where are our women who have good loud mouths and
are able to talk back when Mayor Koch says that the reason so
many people are turning up at shelters is because they think the
city is going to get them an apartment and they want better
places to live? What is he talking about? They had no place to
live in the first place, these people who have been burned out
or who haven't been able to pay their rent or who are forced
out because the building was turned into a condo. And he ac-
cuses these people of trying to get something out of the city.
What are they trying to get? They are trying to get what they
should have in the first place — a decent place to live.
B.C.— This reminds me of the great squatters movement all over
Europe where the gentrification movements of the '60s and '70s
made a lot of people homeless. This is ongoing. What we need is a
squatters movement here. But it can't be organized by people who
are as completely down and out as the homeless are in this city.
We need a lot of vision as we work our way toward it. Do you have
some immediate thoughts as to how we could begin?
K.G.-One group that did something was Acorn out in Brooklyn
where there are smaller abandoned buildings, two and three
family houses. They did have the help of a state senator, though,
I think. They actually opened up the houses, began renovatinq
them, and let people move in. Of course, the Mayor had them
arrested. It seems to me that what Acorn did is somethinq we
can do elsewhere.
The other thing is that the cost to the city, state, and federal
governments of these welfare hotels is astronomical. They pay
thousands of dollars a month for one room in one of these flea-
bitten hotels. Why don't they take over one of these big buildinqs
they just finished, take a few hundred apartments? We can af-
ford it. It's the same money. It's probably less expensive to live
in a three-bedroom apartment on the west side than it is to live
in one of those rat-infested hotels.
B.C.— What we're really dealing with is a colossal rip-off.
K.G.-lt amazes me that Koch and his administration are con-
sidered very clean, no corruption. It's so corrupt you don't know
how bad a name to call it. They're giving away the city to fhoi-c-
developers and nobody calls it anything. It's been exposed that
Koch gets 7 million dollars for his campaign from the develop-
ers, not from me or you. It's the essence of corruption.
I would like to talk about a couple of good things that have!
happened — fights that we have been able to win, small but im-
Erika Rothenberg, CITIZENS RELAX, 1986, acrylic on canvas, 36" x 48"
The artist lives and works in both New York and California. Her work explores the way the media influences and conditions our politics
portant ones, in the last couple of years.
We have been instrumental in helping to build some coalitions
in New York City. There is the New York City Coalition Against
Hunger, which is made up of about TOO emergency food pro-
viders — soup kitchens and pantries. Also there are borough
■coalitions united by the Food and Hunger Hotline. These may
seem small, but they change what happens to real people. If
you get burned out and come to the end of your resources in
New York after 5 o'clock or on weekends and there's no place
to go, the government has four emergency resource units. The
most basic necessities were not available before and now there
Js food in these places, there is formula, there are diapers and
. cribs. There's not enough, it's not well handled. We had a terri-
ble incident recently. Somebody was feeding a kid water out of
Q bottle, and one of our people said, "Why don't you give the
kid formula?" One of the social workers said, "We're only al-
lowed to give out one bottle of formula per shift." A child's
hunger has nothing to do with a seven-hour shift. It wasn't the
workers' fault. They were following orders from above. Still the
emergency units have formula now, and we can fight to have it
given out more often. And it's only through the efforts of a large
coalition of people that we're able to get these things for the
homeless and poor.
NYC Coalition Against Hunger
17 Murray Street
New York, New York 10007
Community Food Resource Center
17 Murray Street
New York, New York 10007
I e wont to know everything that others know, we want
to learn the details of all aspects of political life and to take
part actively in every single political event. In order that we may
do this, the intellectuals must talk to us less of what we already
know and tell us more about what we do not yet know and
what we can never learn from our factory and "economic"
experience, namely, political knowledge. You intellectuals can
acquire this knowledge, and it is your duty to bring it to us in a
hundred- and a thousand-fold greater measure than you have
done up to now; and you must bring it to us, not only in the
form of discussions, pamphlets, and articles (which very often
— pardon our frankness — are rather dull), but precisely in the
form of vivid exposures of what our government and govern-
ing classes are doing at this very moment in all spheres of life.
Devote more zeal to carrying out this duty and talk less about
"raising the activity of the working masses". We are far more
, active than you think. ..It is not for you to "raise" our activity
because activity is precisely the thing you yourselves lack.
— V.I. Lenin, What Is To Be Done?
The object of radical intellectual practice is, in the final analy-
sis, transformation of society and all social relations. Otherwise
the object remains exclusively changes in consciousness rather
than in reality when it is reality itself which must be restructured
and squarely set on its feet. For radical intellectuals the test is
on the ascendancy, as in the 1930s and 1960s, it j s cliff i.
prove whether a significant number of intellectuals acfuallvd fo
radical consciousness or mere radical posturing 2 R ac )i ? pl
sciousness begins by taking responsibility for forms of exDlrVf""
tion which allow intellectuals as the members of the edu t ^
and educating classes to live their lives on the privileqed fm
tal as opposed to manual) side of the social division of laW^ 1
"It is not a question of moral subleties," nor a matter of whether"
I feel guilty. ..To the extent that I am exempt from a ty De !f
exploitation, I benefit from it. ..principally because when other!
do certain work, I do not do it." 3
There is also a limit to the degree intellectuals can break with
their class determinations and merge with the oppressed For
even if they transform their class positions, radicalize theirthink-
ing and enter into concrete relationships with the working class
there is no guarantee that intellectuals will gain the trust of the
workers. Distrust of outsiders reflects, according to Antonio
Gramsci, the fear that students and other intellectuals who gravi-
tate to revolutionary movements are in fact acting out "an un-
conscious desire to realize the hegemony of their own class of
people."* 4 This distrust is grounded not only in historically de-
termined class antagonisms. It is also based on the acute con-
tradictions generated when alliances intellectual:; form with the
oppressed unfold between fixed polarities of theory and prac-
tice, discourse and action. These uneasy, attenuated relationships
whether or not they really want change; change that will sweep
away their privileges along with all other privileges that consti-
tute the conditions and by-products of exploitation under late
The first task for intellectuals is to overturn their own class oosi-
can never span the abyss separating those who huvc access to
knowledge and those who are excluded, those who teach and
those who are taught, those who lead and those who are led.
The alliances white activists formed with black civil rights work-
ers in the early 1960s are an example of how destructive relation-
tions, positions determined and elaborated by the roles they play
in bourgeois social formations. "To become 'ideologists of the
working class' (Lenin), 'organic intellectuals' of the proletariat
(Gramsci), intellectuals have to carry out a radical revolution in
their ideas: a long painful and difficult re-education. An endless
external and internal struggle." 1 Only after this permanent strug-
gle is well underway will it be possible for intellectuals to tran-
scend their class interests, revolutionize their political practice
and abandon once and for all theirself-serving pessimism, their
self-fulfilling prophecies of a future without change, without hope.
There is a limit to the number of intellectuals, however, who
are willing or able to Wage war on their own consciousness.
Even, for example, during periods when radicalism seems to be
CARA GENDEL RYAN is a writer who lives in New York City.
ships can be between intellectual outsiders and rnombeis of an
oppressed group. Many of these alliances woio based on the
denial that the relationship between oppressor and oppressed
would have repercussions on the internal politics of the move-
ment. The consequences of this denial are well known: whiles
assumed dominant positions within the movement itself, repro-
ducing conditions of their own hegemony and setting the limits
of black struggle according to white definitions of black op-
pression. As writer Christine Delphy points out, whether the ob-
jective is the emancipation of the proletarial or the liberation ot
women and blacks, members of dominant uroups cannot play
an unmediated role in emerging struggles for liberation, o
suggest that the nonoppressed (or rather the oppressor) can
participate equally with the oppressed in exploimg the nature
of the oppressed's suffering is absurd."
How then do intellectuals form productive alliances with the
working class and other oppressed groups? Such alliances, if
they are to endure at all, must arise from the reciprocity not the
polarities of theory/practice, discourse/action, knowledge/ex-
rience. According to Lenin, members of a vanguard party must
"qo out among all classes of the population as theoreticians, as
propagandists, agitators and organizers," not to teach the op-
pressed what they already know from their own oppression, but
rather to give the workers, the unemployed,~the dispossessed,
access to political knowledge from which they have always been
excluded and can never learn from experience alone.
Intellectuals, on the other hand, must expand the scope of
their theoretical work by going out into the world to study what
they can never learn from theory alone: the concrete conditions
of oppression: the specific forms of suffering and exploitation
under capitalism — as Marx wrote, "the educator must himself
Intellectuals must realize, however, that although they pro-
duce knowledge essential for revolutionary practice, the lan-
guage in which this knowledge is often reproduced creates
conditions of domination and exclusion. This contradiction will
remain the site of bitter class struggle unless intellectuals re-
solve the opposition between the language they speak and the
language of the masses. "It is true," says Frantz Fanon, "that if
care is taken to use only a language that is understood by grad-
By Cara Gendel Ryan!
oppressing and crushing the worker at every step of
his life ...Working-class consciousness cannot be genuine polit-
ical consciousness unless the workers are trained to respond to
all cases of tyranny, oppression, violence and abuse, no matter
what class is affected." 6 Without this critical understanding, and
without the alliances that such an understanding forges between
all oppressed groups, there is no hope for the emancipation of
society from capitalism.
For many Marxists the concept of a vanguard party is an
anathema; the result of hegemonic struggle within the revolu-
tionary movement itself, a struggle which insures that knowl-
edge and theoretical practice remain the privileged domain of
intellectuals. Many critics, however, who claim to have revealed
this elitist tendency within Lenin's revolutionary theory, are in
fact revealing their own inability to grasp the dialectical rela-
tionship between intellectuals and workers within a revolution-
ary movement. Contained in Lenin's statement, "Without
revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement,"
is a two-pronged strategy which counters both the short-term,
trade-unionist mentality of the workers and the tendency of in-
tellectuals to remain aloof from revolutionary practice. On the
one hand, Lenin's strategy calls for intellectuals to provide the
necessary theoretical weapons, "materialist estimation" and "ma-
terialist analysis," so that the revolutionary movement can mo-
bilize on all fronts of the class struggle, not only the economic,
; uates in law and economics, you can easily prove that the masses
"have to be managed from above. But if you speak the lan-
guage of everyday, if you are not obsessed by the perverse
fdesire to spread confusion and to rid yourself of the people,
'then you will realize that the masses are quick to seize every
but the political and ideological as well. On the other hand, the
strategy insures that the political activity of the vanguard party
does not lag behind the workers movement by forcing the party
to escalate its agitational and organizing activity in response to
the increasing ability of the workers to react to "eve
shade of meaning and to learn all the tricks of the trade...
Everything can be explained to the people on the single condi-
tion that you really want them to understand." Lenin saw no
contradiction, given the "actuality of the revolution," between
an elite vanguard imparting political consciousness to the pro-
letariat and the Marxist project of proletarian self-emancipation.
"Political consciousness," writes Lenin, "can be brought to the
worker only from without, that is only from outside the eco-
nomic struggle, from outside the sphere of relations between
workers and employers. Lenin knew that if the workers' politi-
cal vision remained focused on the low horizon of economic
struggle, they would never recognize that the struggles of other
"oppressed groups were also working-class struggles, that "the
L students and religious sects, the peasants and the authors, are
; being abused and outraged by those same dark forces that are
Jenny Holzer, from THE SURVIVAL SERIES, 1983,
UNEX signs, each 30'/ 2 " x 1 1 ZW x 1 2"
The artist lives and works in New York City.
tation of tyranny and oppression." In the process of politicizing
proletarian consciousness, the political practice of the intellec-
tuals is revolutionized. For Lenin, the dialectical unity of theory
and practice is actualized through alliances forged between in-
tellectuals and workers from the material results of their recip-
rocal activities. It is only through the formation of these dialectical
relationships that all distinctions between intellectuals and non-
intellectuals will eventually disappear.
Like Lenin, Gramsci also realized that radical social transfor-
mation is only possible when revolutionary theory merges with
revolutionary practice. "The problem of the identity of theory
and practice is raised especially in the so-called transitional
moments of history ...For it is then that the practical forces un-
leashed really demand justification in order to become more
efficient and expansive; and the theoretical programmes multi-
ply in number, and demand in their turn to be realistically justi-
fied." For Gramsci, however, the identity of theory and practice
can only be achieved through the formation of an intellectual
stratum within the working class itself. Gramsci's revolutionary
intellectuals, as opposed to the intellectuals of Lenin's vanguard
party, are not class refugees from the bourgeoisie intelligentsia.
Rather these new intellectuals are members of the proletariat
who remain politically connected and "are conscious of being
organically tied to the national popular mass." Working-class
intellectuals, however, are not the only category of organic in-
tellectuals. Every social class called into existence by its function
in the economic mode of production "creates together with it-
self, organically, one or more strata of intellectuals which give it
homogeneity and an awareness of its function not only in the
economic but also in the social and political fields." This con-
cept of the organic intellectual stands in opposition to the re-
ceived notion that intellectuals constitute an autonomous,
"crystallized" social group independent of class determinations
and outside of class struggle. All intellectuals, says Gramsci,
have class membership. This membership is derived from the
objective places that individual intellectuals occupy in the social
division of labor, as well as the class positions they adopt in
relation to their own class ideology and the ideologies of other
classes. The role intellectuals play in any given social formation
is not, therefore, determined by their independent activities, but
rather by the specific social and political functions they perform
in elaborating, reproducing and disseminating class ideology
and class culture. 7
The concept of the organic, working-class intellectual is an
integral part of Gramsci's formidable attempts to adapt revolu-
tionary theory and revolutionary practice to the "current situa-
tion" in the advanced capitalist countries, "where 'civil society'
has become a very complex structure and one which is resistant
to the catastrophic 'incursions' of the immediate economic ele-
Western bourgeoisie," writes Fanon, "has prepared enough
fences and railings to have no real fear. ..of those whom it p
ploits and holds in contempt." 8
If the proletariat is to conquer state power, it must first wrest
control of civil society from the bourgeoisie. Since the bour
geoisie maintain their domination over civil society by ideoloai"
cal hegemony, the proletariat must wage a relentless counter"
hegemonic assault on all bourgeois "institutions"— political col
tural, legal, etc.— all apparatuses which function as conduits
for dominant ideology; a battle for which the bourgeoisie is
magnificently prepared and the proletariat not all. But "the truth
of the matter is that one cannot choose the form of war one
wants, unless from the start one has a crushing superiority"
Before the proletariat engages in hegemonic struggle, it must
develop critical consciousness in order to identify the many guises
and forms the enemy is capable of assuming. "Critical self-
consciousness means, historically and politically, the creation of
an elite of intellectuals. A human mass does not distinguish it-
self, does not become independent in its own right without, in
the widest sense, organizing itself; and there is no organization
without intellectuals, that is, without organizers and leaders."
The new, working-class intellectual, as active participant in prac-
tical life, as "constructor, organizer, 'permanent persuader,'" is
both the product and driving force of the struggle for proletar-
ian self-emancipation. Because organic intellectuals maintain
this double relationship with the workers, they are better suited
than Lenin's vanguard elite to carry out the functions of revolu-
tionary intellectuals. The new intellectuals help the proletariat
attain political consciousness, not by importing it from outside
class lines, but by developing what is already in "embryonic"
form in the workers' often mystified conception of the woi Id. But
perhaps what is more important, the new intellectual is best suited,
psychologically and ideologically, to help the workers actualize
their own intellectual potential for "the proletariat, alongside
the problem of the conquest of political power and economic
power, must also pose for itself the problem of the conquest of
intellectual power." 9
ment (crises, depressions)."
In these countries, as opposed to Russia "where the State was
everything," revolution, according to Gramsci, can only take
the form of a long, protracted war of position waged on the
complex terrain of civil society. It is here among the "powerful
systems of fortresses and earthworks" that the proletariat must
concentrate most of its efforts. For in the advanced countries,
the ruling classes maintain power not only through the state and
its repressive apparatus, but through the medium of civil society,
which the ruling classes consider their private domain. Ideolog-
ical apparatuses, such as the education system, the church, the
media, the legal system, cultural institutions, mold and manipu-
late general consciousness, creating consensus and giving the
capitalist classes the security and luxury of ruling primarily by
persuasion and consent rather than by force and coercion. 'The
Unless otherwise noted, all statements by Gramsci and Lenin are quoted,
from: Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, New York,
International Publishers, 1971; and V.I. Lenin, What Is To Be Done? New
York, International Publishers, 1969.
' Louis Althusser, Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays, trans. Ben Brew-
ster, New York & London, Monthly Review Press, 1971, p.12.
2 See Tom Bottomore, Sociology and Socialism, New York, St. Martin s Press,
1984, pp.152-4. ,
3 Christine Delphy, Close to Home: A Materialist Analysis of Women sup-
pression, Amherst, The University of Massachusets Press, 1984, pp. 1 14-3-
4 As cited by Jerome Karabel, "Revolutionary Contradictions: Antonio
Gramsci and the Problem of Intellectuals," Politics and Society, Vol. b,
No. 2J 976, p. 151
5 See Christine Delphy, pp. 110-3. . .
«Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, trans. Constance Famngton,
New York, Grove Press, 1968, pp. 188-9. _ - ,
7 See Nicos Poulantzas, Classes in Contemporary Capitalism, trans, uaviu
Fernbach, London, Verso, 1978, pp.251-7.
8 Frantz Fanon, p.163.
'Cited by Jerome Karabel, p. 157.
■'•■■: ■. ■••»■
■/ would be hard
pressed to soy
whether I would
hove stoyed ond
fought os I did
if I hod hod on
MELANIE O'HARRA is an artist living and
forking in New York City.
It's a trick of human nature that people
will pay 3,000 times more attention to
3,000 people than to one person stating
the same position. But it does feel differ-
ent to be one of the 3,000 rather than the
lonely one, hopelessly out of synch with
a large, silent machine labeled "the sta-
tus quo." My first political demonstration
(for reproductive rights) afforded me this
insight. It was empowering and even a
little thrilling to stand up and be counted
with a lot of other people commited to
the same cause.
I happened to participate in the dem-
onstration only by virtue of hearing about
it from a friend who planned to go and
suggested that I come, too. Perhaps for
other people a poster, leaflet, or flyer is
enough, but for me it was interaction
with a friend that prompted me to attend —
Jennifer Brown (now president of the New
York City chapter of NOW) informed me
and extended an invitation to join her.
My first long-term political commit-
ment came a few years later through an
external influence: the recognition of the
progressive deterioration of the apart-
ment building I have called home for
seven years. Gentrification of my neigh-
borhood, the Lower East Side, had not
yet taken root, but its seeds were sown
four years ago when fully half of the
almost entirely low-income Hispanic ten-
ants fled our dilapidated building after
pleas for repairs went unanswered and
rats ran free. The empty apartments were
warehoused (kept off the market and
empty by the landlord), and the junkies
started moving in rent free, endangering
My concern brought me to seek advice
and assistance from a non-profit com-
munity preservation organization called
Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES). As
a pearl forms from an irritant, our first
rent-strike and my foremost political
cause, tenants rights, was born. With
the guidance of GOLES and the active
participation of fellow tenants, we fought
and eventually recaptured our homes
but not without cost.
Passive scare tactics on the part of the
landlord became active scare tactics
when a fellow rent-striker's home not-so-
mysteriously burned to the ground while
we were in Housing Court negotiating
with the landlord's attorney for our rights.
An elderly woman barely escaped her
burning apartment when workers reno-
vating the empty apartments for new,
more well-heeled tenants heard her
screams and rescued her. The smoke
was so thick by the time she awakened
that, although she made it to the door,
she could not find the lock to let her-
I would be hard-pressed to say wheth-
er I would have stayed on and fought
politically as I did, if I had had an easier
alternative. But I knew that if I, as an
educated, lower-middle class, working,
single, white woman, had nowhere to go,
then certainly my fellow tenants, eco-
nomically disenfranchised, generally un-
educated, Hispanic, often single-mother
families, had even fewer options. The
recognition made me dig my heels in
Those who departed the building when
repairs were not made left a core group
of people, myself included, with nowhere
else to go and vested interests in remain-
ing. We had fewer options and, when
pushed into a corner, fought for im-
provements rather than slinking away
to uncontested territory.
An agreement was reached, repairs
made, and our homes secured. This, of
course, over months of time, not in a
specific memorable moment, zenith, or
point of completion. But the end result
represented a clear success nonetheless,
one by which I gained not just the end
but discovered the means: the power to
change through collective action.
Most political actions (as in my actions
against intervention in Central America)
do not have such uncomplicated, verifi-
able end goals as indicators of success.
The handle (government policy in this
case) is bigger and harder to grasp than
issues closer to home. Again, frankly,
most people don't even care enough to
think to try. I'm not even sure I have
entirely reached this point of altruism.
My largest efforts, in housing, were first
and foremost motivated by survival, and
I think to be politically active you have
to have felt a wrong personally and seen
the necessity to right it, for yourself and,
hopefully, others. I suppose there are
some that have been politically active for
so long, against such odds, that they are
impatient with, or perhaps even hostile
towards, those who are not active. I can-
not be so impatient because I know my
political roots were slow in forming and
my activism recent enough that I can
remember the simple fact that all activ-
ists begin as non— activists.
your group due to racial, sexual,
I think the major cross-purpose I experience because of racism is
that women of color are serious about eradicating racism and
most white women aren't. This is of course not an issue in the
groups I work in regularly. Homophobia in Third World contexts
is the other major roadblock to organizing for me as a Lesbian of
color. People of color aren't necessarily more homophobic, but
any attack or rejection from within the group is all the more
devastating. Barbara Smith
As a member of the Heresies Collective, I couldn't help noticing
that in 1978 we were all white, middle-class women who lived
below Houston Street. That changed — somewhat — due to the ac-
tivism of some of the Collective members. As a result of the meet-
ings held to address this problem and to solve it, I became
increasingly aware of the trickle-down theory held by many white,
middle-class feminists. Now that we had gotten ours, we were
smug and thought our newly- won advantages would benefit other
In my experience, age-difference has caused the most misunder-
standing. I have found that older women are often ambivalent about
women of my generation — for good reason as many of my peers
accept the world as it is, take feminism for granted and show no
interest in its history or its future. In fact I know many women my
age who are loathe to call themselves feminists, while they con-
tinue to reap the knowledge, power and responsibility from women
like myself, who are feminists...
After working for the feminist newspaper "Majority Report," I felt
there weren't enough Hispanic feminists in the women's movement.
Although the focus of many articles and much energy is on third
world women, such women are not involved in the feminist deci-
sion-making process. The women's movement, after many years,
is still too often composed of white middle-class women. Women
of color should be encouraged to develop leadership qualities so
they can participate in the decision-making process.
My group is white, middle class, nurtured women. They are often
overly guilty about the rights of others. As though they could do
anything. The others have to be self-expressive and that includes
hostile expression that my group doesn't like. The "others" will
develop power in their way. My group cannot punish itself for
being who they are and not others.
I must refer you to a collective book which I edited— The Mud
Flower Collective's God's Fierce Whimsy (Pilgrim Press), written
by black, Hispanic and white women, in which our own class,
race and heterosexual dynamics nearly destroyed the writ-
ing project. We are, afterall, all of us, "daughters of the white
propertied male patriarchy" even if we're black, brown, poor, what-
ever. Therefore, we, like white propertied men, are quite able
to destroy one another (and ourselves) via competitiveness, fear
of "otherness", individualist assumptions about "success,"
projecting our weaknesses and faults onto others, horizontal vio-
None so far. I may answer differently after we have spent two weeks
together in Nicaragua.
The group has remained cohesive because the tragedies cross all
lines. The problems are burnout, how long is it healthy to re-live
your trauma with each new victim, and most people involved hold
full-time jobs, so volunteer time is limited.
Deborah Davidson, MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving
class, religious, or age differences?
Some socialist groups have great difficulty taking sexual or racial
politics seriously, as more than inter-group psychological issues.
We have little exposure to race problems and find it much easier
and more comfortable to work in an all-woman group. We are
able to be more honest and intimate. Degree of activism seems to
be another barrier. Those of us who are arrested or protest in the
streets inhibit many who are cautious about working with us. This
may be an excuse. In a community which relies on military con-
tracts for full employment such as ours, the two active peace groups
(other than the Women's group) avoid participation in vigils or
actions at defense (military) contractors. Also, at 65 any personal
discrimination comes mainly from the male population. Some of
us older women are invisible to some of the men.
Little ageism, except I have a tendency to act differently when I
am (often) the youngest person in a group. Racial misunder-
. '.standings: In anti-apartheid activism, I must deal with anti-Zionism
sand anti-Semitism from black activists. Class: I must deal with
: the fact that my working-class lover is not familiar with or inter-
Vested in many of the academic and political distinctions I focus
ion. Sexual: Straight folks are still freaked out by dykes, hostile
"about men in the movement...
In my theatre group misunderstandings do sometimes arise out of
sexual differences. When women in the group bond, worktogether,
or express themselves in ways that men can't understand, there is a
tension which occurs. And because these are men who are really
trying to make an effort to embrace the feminine within themselves,
there is a great deal of denial about the fact that they maybe behav-
ing in a sexist way. We are in constant dialogue about these issues
— sometimes mumbled, sometimes shouted — but we work on it.
Our collective process allows this, but it often slows things down
and creates problems not present when there is a woman-only group
which has a "shared language." However, the men in the group
might viewtheaboveasmy reverse sexism, which is indeed possible.
This is endless, it seems. Bottom line problem: Self esteem.
Rev. Karen Ziegler
In Ventana, the Central American solidarity group, the "unspoken"
source of some tension is red-baiting because the participation of
Socialist Party members is viewed suspiciously by some, and the
whisperers pass along their doubts without bringing it out in the
open. In the clear light of day, I'm proud of the Socialist Workers
Party's participation. Like other Ventana activists, we have thrown
ourselves into the work at hand. There's a lot to do and this particu-
lar "sectarian" misunderstanding serves no purpose.
Political correctness and political unity are dangerous concepts.
We come together on some points, not on others. Freedom is a
process, not a goal. May Stevens
.Not my group, other than ordinary mutiny, but with other groups
:' taking up the issue and employing divisive tactics. And the ideo-
logues, like McKinnan and Dworkin insisting on the victim analy-
sis instead of empowerment for whores. ■
Margo St. James, Coyote, Prostitutes' Rights
The spiritual nature of activism is often misunderstood, dismissed or
■•; co-opted; that is, one must adopt a politically-correct approach to-
■ wards spirituality in accordance with a group decision or deny that
(often amorphous) part of ourselves because the group is reacting
against organized religion or the over-bearing image of the Bible-
toting distortions of the New Right.
Some feminist meetings are scheduled on important Jewish hol-
idays. This has always made me very angry. I am also concerned
that publications like Ms. Magazine and Lilith tend to exclude
midwestern women from their columns. Reading these journals,
one gets the impression that feminism exists only in the eastern
states of the USA. This is a big distortion of the truth.
Janet Ruth Heller
I am white and active in political and cultural spheres often domi-
nated by blacks. Since returning to this country, I have known on
occasion the cold fear that comes from being a conspicuous tar-
get in a racially tense situation in a violent society.
Anonymous witness, Christian activist. Currently serving an 8 year
sentence (reduced from 18 years) for "destruction of government
property, trespassing and conspiracy", the jamming of a missile
silo cover with hammers. This 'dialogue' began while she was
serving a shorter sentence in a D.C. jail, for a separate, earlier action.
Why do you wish to remain anonymous?
I'm a bit leery of any attention paid to individuals in resistance,
having seen too much of the cult of personality that develops
when the focus is on the person and not on the truth of the
witness. I think this is particularly important in Christian resis-
tance. Who we are is totally unimportant. If in our witness we
somehow illuminate the truth of Christ's peace, that is more
(As for) the "cult of personality," I think history has shown the
danger of "leaders". I was reminded of this by a statement that
the anti-nuclear movement needs to bring forth a Gandhi or
a Martin Luther King. Both these giant men were catapulted into
positions of leadership due to the charisma of their personali-
ties, and people became attached to them rather than to the
truth of the morality, spirituality, nonviolence which they
preached. As soon as they were gone (prison and death) the
"movement" they led died, and the people returned to the norm
of conflict and violence. Gandhi once said his followers had
caused him more anxiety and trouble than his British adversar-
ies, and he died considering himself a failure because he had
imparted to others only himself and not the love and nonviolence
which could sustain them.
How does one encourage thought, prayer, action in others without
becoming a "public figure"?
Do what you do and then duck — quickly. If the witness can't
stand on its own statement of truth — exposing of nuclear idola-
with the prosecution, accepting of fines, restitution, probation
keeping the case in the courts on endless appeal (for the pur-
pose of avoiding punishment rather than continuing the state-
ment of truth) would not sit well on my conscience.
(2) As Thoreau said, when the true criminals (in our case, the
Reagans, Weinbergers and joint chiefs) are running around free
the only honorable place for a decent human being is in the
(3) As a continuation of the witness;
(4) As an embrace of the humility and vulnerability of Christ-
(5) A living-out of the fact that unearned suffering is always
(6) As a further exposing of the Beast;
(7) In the mystical sense that great spiritual power is released
by the mere presence of good in a place of evil, love amidst
(8) The deliberate placing of one's life among the first victims
of the Bomb, society's poor and outcast;
(9) As a form of prayer, the modern desert monasticism.
Are you a member of a particular church? Why or why not?
I'm Roman Catholic and love the Church with all my heart. As a
friend once said, "She may be a whore, but she's our mother."
Which is not, of course, to say that her sons and daughters need
be bastards. The why is simple— Word, liturgy, sacrament, truth,
life. Who can refuse such a gift?
Why did you choose a particular form of resistance (e.g. blood
spilling, especially in certain places?
For most religious resisters, the particular form of a witness is
determined by the symbols which speak to us most clearly of
the heart of existence — life, death, resurrection. Bloodpouring
expresses at once the horror of the death work of nuclear sites,
the blood of Christ shed in redemption, our own willingness to
try and the call to conscientious action in light of the Gospel — if
it needs the charisma of a "public figure" or any other gimmick
to carry it, it isn't worth much. The writing and/or speaking that
one does during or after can be handled in the same manner,
especially if done from prison — numbers and blue uniforms
being great equalizers. Resisters are neither great saints nor
sinners, and neither to be emulated for their virtue nor rejected
for their shortcomings; sanctity, in any case, being the province
of God and none of our concern. If the emphasis is on the truth
of the witness, the answer to the question, "Who was that masked
woman?" ought to be "Who cares?"
Why go to jail?
(1 ) Partly just the inevitable outcome of taking responsibility for
one's act. The maneuvers which can keep one out of jail— deals
endure suffering rather than inflict it upon others, our vital con-
nection with all humanity in the beloved community. Other sym-
bols spring from biblical texts — the use of hammers from the
injunction to beat swords into plowshares, or from liturgy — the
celebration of Eucharist (bringing life into a place of death) or
ashes from burned money in repentance for our misuse of re-
sources. Some are dictated by a particular situation, like the
symbolic use of Interdict in response to the bishops' failure to
condemn just war and nuclear deterrence.
The site is limited only by imagination since the nuclear mon-
ster has its tentacles everywhere, but the choice will determine
the type of witness, for example, it would not be particularly
meaningful (though lots of fun) to bash the White House with
hammers, though nothing is more appropriate when faced with
a Trident sub. Some differentiate between purely symbolic acts
(blood pouring) and "disarmament" actions. I tend not to make
i f '
this distinction for myself because none of us has ever confronted
a live nuclear weapon and I'm not sure what we could safely do
with it if we were, other than label it symbolically. One form
seems to lend itself more readily when the focus is on the human
element, the second when the matter to be dealt with is the physi-
cal property itself. Both are essential. For most of us, the choice
is made after much prayer, and if acting in community, through
much reflection. Also essential is the element of celebration, play
and pure fun. Resistance is serious but seldom grim.
The trick is not to take yourself too seriously. When you get
people conspiring together in celebration, you're going to have
fun. I wouldn't act in situations where this element is missing.
Part of the ability to celebrate and have fun comes in the
ability to renounce the fruits of one's action. Quite the opposite
of the military where the fruits are the only thing that count (num-
ber of enemy killed, territory conquered). We know that life has
already overcome death, love overcome hatred. Our individual
acts will not end the arms race, but our love and fidelity and
obedience will. So we can relax and enjoy. The fact that we do
so mystifies and sometimes angers others. I was once told by a
Secret Service agent, "Stop grinning! You're in serious trouble."
I'd never had so much fun in my life. It feels good to do good.
Even when handcuffed to a wall for 4 hours. So much of what
we do stifles the human spirit. Most Americans hate their work
(therefore ulcers, tranquilizers, early heart attack), hate their fam-
ilies (divorce, refusal to have children, child neglect and abuse).
So many don't know why they live as they live except that every-
one lives that way and it's hard to stop. Resistance begins with a
kind of liberation from that spiritual death, and the feeling after
acting is one of enormous freedom and joy.
Should acts of witness become "useful"? (that is, "political" via ex-
posure to the press, or as teaching devices, or to promote further
discussion, and therefore, future actions?)
In the age of media, nothing done publicly (and little that's done
BY HOLLY METZ
privately) can escape becoming "political" or "useful". To make
use of that exposure, to teach and promote discussion is entirely
appropriate, but that's a far cry from planning the witness as a
media event (in which case it's not a witness at all.) It doesn't
even make sense. The Day After and Helen Caldicott on the
Donahue show reach millions; our seminars, discussion groups
and newsletters reach thousands, and you don't have to do 6
months for them. To manipulate the witness into the arena of the
political is to deny the power of God's grace to work its mysteri-
ous, mystical magic (as in the silent prayer of contemplatives or
the suffering love of a slum worker whom no one can name, as
in the Chassidic legend of the Just.)
You can bet that those who do the best job of making their
witness useful are the ones who have their eye on the Spirit first
and the TV cameras a distant second. (Personal note: After one
witness, when the press finally caught up with us, the TV guy
said in the future we would better accommodate him if we did not
act at six o'clock on a Sunday morning. He was incredulous
when we explained that accommodating him had never entered
(And) I don't place much emphasis on the interpreting and
explaining of particular actions and witnesses so that they be-
come "comprehensible" to the public. (This as opposed to tell-
ing about the bomb and the need for resistance in general which
I fully favor.) Let the witness stand alone.
Mary Ward, a 16th-century English nun wrote "Women especially
are victims of the long loneliness," a phrase that Dorothy Day, co-
founder of the Catholic Worker movement, used as the title of her
autobiography. What is your opinion of the relationship between
acts of resistance/faith and women as a group?
I'm not the best person to ask about the women's issue because
I happened to grow up in a family which assumed that people
would do precisely what they wanted to do regardless of sex
and which regarded the typically female tasks (nurturing chil-
dren, houskeeping) and the typically male tasks (work and phys-
ical labor) as equally necessary and important. In adulthood I
have always done precisely what I wanted and never once felt
oppressed, repressed, or any other "essed". Never having ex-
perienced the sense of oppression and feeling personally no
need for change (or vengeance), I don't look at the feminist thing
the way many women today do.
In a sense, I feel that men have been more victimized than
women. The requirement to be always strong, competitive, suc-
cessful, dominant, aggressive and unquestioningly obedient to
authority which says "fight, kill, die and don't complain" is a
tremendous slavery. I suspect that most men are more creatures
of society's expectations that are most women, but it doesn't
really matter. What we need is not a reversal of the established
order in which women become the visible slaves and men the
invisible, but a new order — the liberation of the human spirit.
Resistance has meaning only if we do away with all the artificial-
ly imposed divisions that are, in and of themselves, violent, and
create further violence. Rich/poor, black/white, male/female,
good/bad, American/Russian — Bomb = death.
For these reasons I don't understand very well the exclusively
women's actions. I see exclusion for any reason under any cir-
cumstances as an act of violence. If we disarm without building
true community at the same time, we will only have a vacuum
where the Bomb used to be which will quickly be filled with
some other expression of our divisiveness. We conspire together
or we die alone. Aren't we tired of dying alone?
"Anonymous Witness" is excerpted from a book about 20th-century
war resisters. HOLLY METZ is also co-author, with Sue Coe, of How
to Commit Suicide in South Africa, a book on political detention.
When the first atomic bomb exploded
over Hiroshima, human beings who were
within 300 meters of ground zero were
instantly vaporized by the searing heat
of the blast, leaving behind only their
"shadows." The remnants of these inno-
cent victims provide the image for the
International Shadow Project, a solemn
memorial with a singular purpose: To
help people understand and imagine the
disappearance of all life through nuclear
Before dawn on Hiroshima Day proj-
ect participants paint silhouettes of human
beings engaged in various activities on
public streets and sidewalks in various
communities around the world. The silent
testimony of these anonymous human
®m^j:S>&&j-&:.; v mat
By Donna Grund Slepack
silhouettes dramatizes what would re-
main after nuclear war.
On August 6, 1985, Portland activist
artists joined over 10,000 participants
from around the world in producing the
International Shadow Project (ISP). As a
result of their action, citizens in over 400
communities in 24 countries woke up in
the morning to find a grim, visual re-
minder of the first nuclear holocaust. A
collage of human images covered the
pavements of those communities through-
out the world in remembrance of the
40th anniversary of the bombing of Hiro-
shima. Although the participants of the
ISP spoke different languages, on Hiro-
shima Day they shared with the world
' community a language of form that intro-
duced the human element into the nu-
The Shadow Project and the attention
given to the 40th anniversary of the
bombing of Hiroshima tended to con-
centrate the mind, body and spirit for a
time. As newspaper clippings, photos,
and videos of TV news reports poured in
from many of the 400 communities par-
ticipating in the ISP, one thing became
evident: The shadows, though each
unique and individually made, revealed
a generic similarity. Shadows from the
USA resembled the shadows from Hun-
gary, which in turn resembled the shad-
ows of Australia, England, France,
Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Nigeria, etc.
The Shadow Project seemed to visually
communicate a sense of that which unites
all individuals — our humanity.
The first Shadow Project took place in
New York City in 1 982 and was followed
by a similar one in Portland, Oregon in
1 983. Following is an account of that
As a member of the "Duck and Cover
Generation" and as a person interested
in activist art, I was attracted to a lecture
at Reed College in October, 1982, enti-
tled "Art in the Nuclear Age." It was
there that I first learned about Alan
Gussow's Shadow Project. On Hiro-
shima Day in 1982, 150 people, mostly
art students, took to the New York City
streets in the middle of the night to paint
I was deeply impressed with the con-
cept and felt it needed repetition. After
the lecture I met with Alan Gussow and,
along with Manya Shapiro, Grace Wein-
stein and Nancy Blake, began to orga-
nize a Shadow Project for Portland. Other
members of FeMail Art, a group of Port-
land women who produce feminist post-
cards, decided to become involved. We
began meeting nine months before Hiro-
shima Day to determine how we could
successfully implement the Shadow Proj-
ect in Portland. We joined forces with
PAND, Performers and Artists for Nuclear
Disarmament, and organized the Shadow
Project under their auspices.
Knowing that seven participants were
arrested in the New York project the
year before, the first item on our organi-
zational agenda was to contact the Na-
tional Lawyers Guild. We met with
attorneys and explored the idea of in-
volving the Lawyers Action for Nuclear
Arms Control. That group, however, could
not conceive of any anti-nuclear action
off paper. The National Lawyers Guild,
on the other hand, agreed to represent
us pro bono. Their enthusiasm about the
case helped me appreciate the Shadow
Project in new ways.
To properly plan for this event we
needed specific information from the law-
yers. We wanted to find out the legal
consequences and possible charges that
could be brought against us. In New
York charges were dropped for some
of those cited. Others had to pay small
fines, equivalent to a traffic ticket. We
couldn't, however, anticipate the reaction
of the Portland police.
Our lawyers assumed that the likeli-
hood of arrest was greater in Portland
than in New York since New York police
are used to graffiti artists on the streets
and generally ignore them. We would
probably be found guilty of a Class C
misdemeanor in the Third Degree (mis-
chievous misconduct), which carries a
maximum penalty of $250 and one month
I personally didn't feel that the project
was radical enough to merit that fine
and wanted information that would mini-
mize the risk of getting arrested. In April,
Emily Simon, one of our attorneys, identi-
fied the high vice areas of the city, which
consequently have a high police density.
We marked these areas on the map and
designated them as prohibited areas.
In addition to reviewing the penalties
for the various types of misdemeanors,
our lawyers informed us about the seri-
ous consequences of damaging feder-
ally owned property. Criminal Mischief I,
Class C, carries a maximum penalty of
a $1 00,000 fine and five years in jail.
Such charges could be brought against
someone causing more than $200 worth
of property damage to public transpor-
tation facilities and certain other public
property. This meant bus shelters, mail
boxes, post offices, railroad depots, as
well as private property, were restricted
Besides helping us determine locations
to avoid, Emily also assisted in figuring
out the best time to paint. In Australia
there is a billboard altering campaign
entitled "BUGA-UP," which stands for
"Billboards Utilizing Graffiti Artists
Against Unhealthy Promotions." There they
found that far fewer arrests occurred
when the tobacco and alcohol billboard
advertisements were altered during the
day. There were fewer police around
and the painters could easily blend into
the working environment by wearing
overalls. To maximize the drama, how-
ever, we decided to work during the mid-
dle of the night at times when police
shifts were about to change.
The length of time we were to paint
was a critical matter. In New York paint-
ing took place from midnight until 6 am.
Fearing an immediate shutdown, though,
we limited our painting to 3—5 am.
By mid-May we started to organize a
general information meeting to be held
in July. The purpose of this meeting was
to recruit members, explain the purpose
of the project and demonstrate the pro-
cedure for designing and painting shad-
DONNA GRUND SLEPACK is an activist
artist and co-director of the International
Shadow Project. She is on the faculty of
Antioch University, Seattle, WA.
We developed a simple flier that did
not disclose the details of the action. We
sent it to all the local peace groups and
requested them to announce our project
at their meetings and publish it in their
newlefters. We distributed the fliers to food
co-ops, book stores, art schools, pro-
gressive churches, and of course to radio
and TV stations and newspapers. In ad-
dition, Portland Center for the Visual Arts
had held a Public Hanging, inviting all
artists in the city to participate in this ex-
hibit. We had the good fortune to obtain
their 400-artist mailing list.
The turnout at this meeting was over-
whelming. Since the New York project
included 100-150 participants, we antici-
pated that in Portland we could probably
expect a sign-up of 50. To our surprise,
70 people attended the first meeting.
However, our lawyers assumed if the
project was so widespread, the police
would certainly know about it as well.
(We never found out if the police knew
about the project in advance. We don't
believe they did since 200 of us were
able to successfully paint 2000 shadows
without significant interruption.)
After the information meeting, our two
lawyers met with me and the other orga-
nizers to review the material they would
be presenting to the training meetings.
The training meetings were a very critical
part of the event. We wanted to make
sure all participants understood the risks
involved with the project and would know
how to conduct themselves in the event
they were apprehended by a police
A listing of all the legal information
was prepared. Essentially the shadow
painters were told what to carry (e.g.,
identification, paper and pencil to imme-
diately record the facts if arrested, change
to make telephone calls, a $150 money or-
der for bail if it could be afforded, and
a list of locations to avoid). They were
also informed about what not to carry.
Since participants could be searched, no
one was allowed to have any drugs,
firearms or knives in their possession.
If participants were stopped by the
police, they needed to know how to act
in order to prevent the situation from
escalating. To avoid being prosecuted
for harrassment, they could not stand too
close to an officer, extend a hand, or
spray saliva on him/her during the course
of a conversation. Furthermore, using
obscene language could result in a
charge of disorderly conduct. Resisting
arrest, Escape III, Assault IV, and eluding
an officer were serious violations that
participants needed to avoid. They were
also instructed about what to expect if
taken into custody.
The most difficult concept to which ev-
eryone had to agree was not talking to
the police. Many participants thought they
could talk their way out of arrest or con-
vince the police officer of the merit of the
Shadow Project as well as of the horrors
of nuclear war. The attorneys did a su-
perb job persuading the participants that
what they said would certainly be held
against them. Their conversation was to be
limited to "I want my lawyer." When one
shadow painter, stopped by a police
officer, quickly responded as instructed
the officer laughed and replied, "For
such a silly thing?" (Another officer
walked by a painter and complimented
her on her good work.)
The presence of the attorneys during
the training was crucial. It gave partici-
pants access to professional counsel, as-
sured them of free competent legal
support, and helped them to take the
information seriously. In fact, the one
person taken into custody was the only
person who had not attended the train-
ing meeting. He neglected to carry iden-
tification. He had been briefed by one of
the organizers, which probably didn't have
the same impact on him.
each with its own supply headquarters
Each team of three was given five gal-
lons of white wash, a non-permanent
medium used for temporary signs. Parti-
cipants were also supplied with small
paint rollers and project posters. In addi-
tion, each participant received three tele-
phone numbers. We established a hot line
for shadow painters to call in the event
of arrest. The people answering the phone
would, in turn, call one of the 25 volun-
teer attorneys waiting in the wings at
Bail money was made available
through the Women's International League
for Peace and Freedom.
Our caution even led us to consult the
Guardian Angels, who assured us they
would not interfere. Their interest was in
protecting people, not property.
During the project, 1 9 participants
were cited and one taken into custody.
He was out by 10 am the next morning.
Due to the controversial nature of the ?
project, the media attention was both
positive and negative. A flurry of letters
to The Oregon/an that continued until
September 5th expressed support for our \
consciousness-raising project as well as
vitriolic disapproval of our vandalism. The
mayor proclaimed the project a terrible
After four identical training meetings
were held, we had 200 participants in-
volved in the project, far exceeding our
expectations and making the event larger
than the one in New York. With such a
large group it became important to de-
centralize. We divided the city into five
zones, each led by a zone leader and
misuse of public propci ly cmd Iho Oio-
gonian editors demanded prosecution of
the Shadow Painter "VandnL" In con-
trast, National Public Radio described the
Shadow Project as a uniqui- commemora-
tion of Hiroshima Day on "All Things Con-
sidered." Willamette Week published four
articles following the sr-qu.;n<-<.- of events,
the last as late as December 27th. Sev-
eral school and university newspapers
featured comprehensive articles describ-
ing the project and Joan Rudd wrote an
inspiring article for the Portland Jewish
Review contemplating the discrepancy
between the "How could they?" re-
sponse to Warsaw Ghetto photos and
the desire to prosecute painters of nu-
clear war death images. Correspon-
dence lasted a year.
The dichotomies of people's responses
and priorities were amazing and instruc-
tive. Some valued the project for its dis-
armament message, others objected
more to the temporary images on the
applies to us all, the project provided yet
another vehicle to express opposition to
nuclear annihilation and support for dis-
armament. It enabled participants to ex-
perience empowerment and a sense of
community in working together for peace.
Likewise, it stimulated the viewer to con-
sider the consequences of aggression
and clearly excited the human capacity
By graphically depicting the effects of
nuclear weapons on civilian populations,
activities like the Shadow Project help
galvanize the public support for disar-
mament. That many Shadow Projects
were able to obtain endorsements and
not be immediately predicted, as the
following vignette illustrates. After the
1983 Portland Shadow Project, we vid-
eotaped interviews of people on the
street. One woman was visibly aghast
when she learned about the prospects of
nuclear vaporization, an unfamiliar con-
cept to most people with whom we spoke.
To our delight, we discovered that this
same woman subsequently became ac-
tive in the nuclear freeze campaign and
painted shadows in the 1985 Shadow
Project. Another poignant response to
the Shadow Project came from a person
who initially did not support it. He told me
later that while walking to work one day
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streets than to the permanent conse-
quences of nuclear annihilation. Perhaps
the most meaningful was the warm and
supportive resonse of the Mayor of Hiro-
shima, via the director of Japan's Hiro-
shima Peace Memorial Hall.
By August 25 all arraignments had
taken place, and no charges were
pressed. The removal of the shadows, a
task taking one bucket of water, one
scrub brush and one minute per shadow,
was the only point of contention, and that
The Shadow Project of course did not
end the arms race or result in disarma-
ment. Social change is never the result of
a single event or the deeds of one indi-
vidual. While the Nurnberg obligation
permits from their local city councils at-
tests to the credibility of our cause and
the maturity of the Peace Movement. Nu-
clear vaporization is becoming a house-
hold phrase. This was documented by the
front page coverage in numerous news-
papers, letters to the editor, descriptive
articles accompanied by photographs,
editorials, television reports and the Time
magazine reference to the shadow im-
ages (August 9, 1985).
At the same time, media coverage is
not the only indicator of success. The
images themselves, with or without TV
and newspaper attention, allowed the
viewers to see themselves as potential
nuclear shadows. The sequel to conscious-
ness-raising of the Shadow Project can-
after the event he observed clusters of
people hovering over the painted im-
ages. Approaching them he saw for the
first time complete strangers talking to
each other about nuclear war. Indeed, it
is the goal of art and activism to moti-
vate people to question, reflect, and act.
The United States of America was the
first to develop and drop the bomb on a
civilian population. Similarly, it was the
first to accelerate the arms race. With this
International Shadow Project, we express
the hope that the United States will also
be the first to set an example and disarm.
Contact: Donna Grund Slepack, 817 Brighton
Ave., Oregon City, OR 97045; or Alan Gussow,
121 New York Ave., Congers, NY 10920.
We met on an evening in July
in one of the old taverns of this town,
two poets, unable to write, newly arrived,
hunted and haunted. For me,
the escape. For you,
You said you would show me
the Olympic Peninsula.
The road was overgrown.
In the headlights of your car I cleared the trees.
The cabin was vandalized, gutted,
the twenty-six oddshaped windows
opening onto the Straits, Canada and all the northern sky
shot out. The sink, the pump, the stoves,
even the doors, stolen.
You wandered around, then out to the deck,
seeming to forget me in the debris.
Victoria, the only human light,
shimmered on the foreign shore.
I heard the groan of a fishing boat below the bluff,
a strange cry from the woods, like a woman,
your ex-wife, the children.
We lay on a narrow mattress in the loft,
amidst bullet shells, beer cans, mold and glass,
the cold, hard bed of delinquent teenagers.
The moon was a broken boat through the bullet shattered
We told each other.
First words. I said
one night stand. You said ground zero.
I said I lost my children, my lover.
You said submarine, fucking vandals.
I said kids with no place to go, kids forbidden
to love. You said holocaust. Apocalypse.
I pulled you over on me. The volcano erupted.
The world turned to ash. I screamed
love cannot be gutted.
The moon, the stars, the giant trees watched
through a bullet hole.
II .. ..... mm WH^
From New England Review and Bread Loaf Quarterly
and Empty Bowl.
for Michael Daley
March 25, 1982
You moved in, installed sink, stoves, water pump.
Sixty oddshaped windows. You sat here
pissed as the eagle that stared from the bluff,
the greasepen numbers on the glass
around your brooding head
like cabala, some secret military code.
When I visited, I felt a vandal.
When I left you cried deserted.
In November I moved in.
Sheetrock. Yellow paint named Sunlight.
My white dog, Moonlight.
I said I'd stay until the place
became a landscape in my dreams.
SHARON DOUBIAGO is a writer currently living in Oregon.
By moon's light through the bullet hole
I began to write.
Your words; The Duckabush, The Dosiewallips,
The Hamma Hamma.
It snowed in December.
You followed Coyote's tracks to the log where he slept.
A trapper came on the deep path.
He had Coyote. He gave you his card.
He boasted he'd get the rest.
He hinted that for money he could get them for you.
You were not easy to love.
You couldn't speak. Your tongue was cut out.
I left, screaming down the interstate,
avoiding the road over the mountains
to my old, equally beautiful, home.
You wrote me. One Trident submarine equals
two thousand and forty Hiroshimas.
In the cities I was weighted with cedar, an inland sea,
like provisions carried on my back
Friends I'd always respected said
they couldn't live without culture
I was weighted with the culture of eagle, coyote, people
like weather, like stars, functions of nature, not
human will, money, concrete.
I came back to stare back at Eagle,
to cut, carry, and chop our firewood,
to piss in the tall fem, to shit
in the first little house you ever built.
I came back and broke my habit at last
of the electric typewriter.
I came back to our cruel and grinding poverty,
never enough kerosene, gasoline, postage, paper or pens.
We turned off the propane. It is so cold in our house
the little food on our shelves is naturally iced.
I came back to listen to the woods,
gull squawk and moandance of cedar, fir and alder,
the high scream of wind through the mouth of Haro,
Rosario, Deception Pass
where the ships disappear on the inward passage.
I came back to listen to your breath
as you sleep beside me. Poet. Your words.
Puma, Ish, Milosz. The children
who once lived here.
You weighted me with your poems,
like provisions. I left, drove home.
My children were grown, gone.
Your words lulled me back.
I came back to study the language of gulls,
the stories they scream to each other
as they fly off their sanctuary,
You pulled me up the stairs.
Beyond your head I watched the moon through
the bullet hole.
You said six layers of mountains
from the road, you said rivers
without end. You quoted Rilke's
Neptune of the blood and his terrible trident.
You said Trident
submarine. You said
We climb the stairs together.
The roof leaks, the cabin is for sale.
I say it is ours for now. Our one night stand,
our two hundred nights.
You tell me of this thing that is coming,
the deadliest weapon ever made.
Two football fields, four stories high.
Two thousand and forty Hiroshimas.
It can be anywhere in the world, undetected,
and hit its target within half a foot.
It can be anywhere in the world and no one,
not the President, not the Computer
will be able to find it.
One day soon it will enter the Straits of Juan de Fuca.
The most evil thing ever created
Will float beneath our cabin, then down
the Hood Canal.
You say four hundred and eight cities
from a single submarine. You say
First Strike Weapon. You say
shoot out their silos. You say
I came upon an old man
teaching his granddaughter and grandson
how to shoot.
I sat here alone.
The door banged open and four kids
burst in. Perfume, six packs, party clothes.
I think I frightened them
as much as they frightened me.
On clear days the islands rise up.
San Juan. Lopez. Orcas, white skyscrapers
on Vancouver. How many ships, my love,
have come and gone since we came? How many whales,
eagles, coyotes and gulls?
I finished my epic poem here.
You finished The Straits.
Every night the human city
shimmers and beckons on the Canadian shore.
Every night of one whole week
the sky wove and unwove
the rainbow flags of all the north
delicately over us. The Aurora
Two seasons of snow, now the season of light again.
My one night stand, our four hundred
I saw car lights descend Protection Island
to the water.
The leaks in the roof washed away
my nightwritten words.
We saw six killer whales
rise and fall through the water.
You said my rejected poems. I said
your smallminded editors. I said
I can almost understand now
what the gulls are saying.
saw* - • ^ifei
Jeanne Silverthorne, TOO, polyester resin, 51" x 22" x 73"
JEANNE SILVERTHORNE is an artist living and working in New
York and Philadelphia.
My dreams take place on an inland sea,
a land soaked in silver shadows and blue.
We are traveling to the heart of the continent.
We are looking for a room to rent. We are having a baby.
We are building a house.
You say unrecognized. Unpublished. I say just
wait. You say holocaust. You say apocalypse. I say
Once you went with me.
Once you came for me.
We climb the loft together. This, you say
is your home now. This northwest corner. This last place
we can run.
This bed of outlaws, circle of mountains, finger
of glacier water, dark sun of winter behind
Assuming you are able to understand Hiroshima in
one second, you will be able to understand Trident
in thirty four minutes. That's one Trident submarine.
To understand the destructive power of the whole
Trident fleet, it will take you seventeen hours
devoting one second to each Hiroshima. *
The real estate agents are lost on Old Dump Road.
Coyote yelps. The last hunter shoots.
The kids break through the woods
still looking for the party.
I throw open the window. "Here's your bed!
Come join us! We've kept it warm for you!"
You always pull me back to weep in your arms, where
are my teenagers?
Light shoots through the skylights.
Twenty full moons awake us.
Moonlight sleeps below by the fire, cries from nightmare.
The Manx, the Siamese watch us through the bullet hole.
We lie in terror,
watch the giant trees arch and blow over us,
rain and wind so fierce
we wait without words to be crushed.
Finally I say maybe we should leave. You say
where would we go?
You say death like a storm that might/might not
blow over. You say Puma.
I say Tatoosh means Thunderbird.
Like Phoenix, like rebirth.
You say the last crisis is not death,
but how to be beautiful.
How to die
The volcano erupted. The world turned to ash.
Now the planets line up; six hundred days and nights.
The sun comes north
falls into the mouth of the Straits.
Rhododendron. Honeysuckle. Calypso. Trillium.
The stunted shrub blazes up
like a flaming heart.
And snow circle of mountains! Ring of fire!
Rainer, Mt. Baker, Glacier. Peak, St. Helens!
Olympic Home of the Gods: Sappho, Makah, Joyce, Quinault.
Shi Shi, La Push, Ozette, Kalaloch.
How many nights my love, how many poems, my great poet
we have awakened
to the low moan of a fishing boat,
someone's voice, almost,
heard in the trees.
It has already left. It is on its way.
It is coming around from the other side of the continent.
the date is a secret.
Say the word Hiroshima.
Reflect on its meaning for one second.
Say and understand Hiroshima again.
Say and understand Hiroshima two thousand and forty times.
It will enter the mouth of the Straits,
then slip down the Hood Canal.
It will move beneath your cabin.
It will come through your windows.
You will be anywhere in the world
and it will find you.
* From Jim Douglass' Lightning East and West.
The better I become at doing nonviolent acts of conscience, the
more I become categorized as an enemy of my country.
The fact that in some ways the lifestyle of the bourgeois world is
probably more human — it may be an alienated, repressive soci-
ety, but I don't think 60 hours a week work, no social/cultural activ-
ities outside of slideshows, 10 minutes a day for relationships are a
part of the human emancipatory project. It is ironic that you can
work for 5 years for an organization, leave (with no plaque or
watch) and not get phone calls from your associates until they
want you to do something. This probably happens more often in
the movement that it does at Howard Johnsons.
What contradictions? Do you mean would I be bothered if one
day my granddaughter wanted to turn out?
Margo St. James, Coyote, Prostitutes' Rights
To be good at it and give oneself most wholly, it is necessary to be
detached sometimes, to have a life of one's own.
Rev. Karen Ziegler
I often feel I'm the token disabled lesbian on committees or in other
groups and that, having got me there, they tend to rest on their
laurels and outreach work virtually ceases. It amuses me a bit that I
may only be doing all these things because of the lucky chance of
being a lesbian with disability. Were I only disabled, or only les-
bian, I feel I might not have become any sort of activist.
Here I was involved in a project that had motivated 10,000 people
around the world to take action against nuclear proliferation, yet
in my own household I have been impotent to get my partner to
cook a meal.
The more you're active, the less time you have for your own work
(which is at least partly what your activism is about). The more I do,
the more I produce, the more I envy women who have time to just
be, and the more I see the virtures of being. Activism tends to
make you simple-minded, to see things in terms of clear-cut opposi-
tions, rather than dialogically (which is what I like) and in their com-
...That the very same institutions one wishes to change are the ones
one is dependent upon for financial and professional survival. For
example, using a university as a non-profit umbrella in order to
receive grants to do your work, or needing recognition, and there-
fore validation, by the art world establishment in order to make a
living off your art. Jacqueline Hayden
Thetendency toward totalitarian, authoritarian attitudes on thepart
of otherwise enlightened liberal thinkers.
I find it ironic that while each human being is preparing herself for
personal power, she is berating herself for the lack of power in
others. This makes her dull in the pursuit of her own self. It all
comes from being socialized as nurturant women — the one area in
which the most self-effacing woman is strong. She applies that
— guiltily — toothers insteadofbeingnatural about the relationship
between self-interest and democratization.
Most of my insights regarding how we raise our men and women
from before birth come to me now after my children are grown. The
very practices that made the boys independent ... now keep them
from sharing their fears and my insights.
We stress ourselves out working for peace, often forgetting that
we may do more for global peace by calming down than by rac-
ing around. We spend much time focusing on cultural/political
external flaws at the expense of giving attention and healing en-
ergy to the fragile inner workings of our smaller communities.
9 m & o l
Fid m ft sCmmRIC M Wb \
. . . How people can see things so clearly on one issue but can't seem
to transpose that understanding to other issues.
It's difficult to deal with individuals — yet I am passionate about human
beings and all life.
There is nothing particularly ironic in the everyday contradictions of
activism. It's a matter of resolving social issues with the greatest
The potential for divisiveness. Allies who began their work together
sometimes find themselves winding up in different camps. A good
example of this is the pornography issue which has split the wom-
en's movement down the middle, resulting in an alliance between
some feminists and the moral majority. If that's not ironic, I don't
know what is.
No matter how much we "activists" do, nothing much seems to change
(on the grand scale at least), but we all go on doing it anyway and
we all believe, in one way or another, that something will change.
Working for peace amid the daily struggles with a small child. I
think activism on a grand scale is easier than showing a peaceful,
loving example to one's own child. Janet Burdick
The separation between the line spoken and the life lived privately
of many activists I knew.
To hold certain moral values (to believe, for example, that housing is
a right) is frequently threatening to "non-political" co-workers or
other persons one may meet in the course of an ordinary day; there-
fore, one's personal conduct receives unrelenting scrutiny. I call this
the bogus-$50-watch question, or "Why are you wearing a $50 watch
if you're for poor people/on the left/a socialist, etc.?" Everyday
contradictions . . . How easily "non-political" individuals use those who
are politically active as their surrogates for action instead of as help-
mates or sources of information. The political activist becomes a
cardboard saint, an example-to-us-all while the uninvolved wait for
the activist to be tempted by a corporate offer, or to manifest those
contradictions which make movements energetic, lively and truthful.
...That women are not, after all, all "sisters." Sometimes it is neces-
sary (and most unpleasant) to fight among ourselves, not only for
ideologies, but also against the insecurity (or whatever it is) that
makes women push each other aside for personal recognition or
I don't think it's ironic, but it's not what most folks assume; namely,
that activism and contemplation go hand-in-hand and, as such, hold
the co-creative power to change the world.
. . . Reagan and Nancy getting a big hype about saving a child who
needs a heart operation, while in reality they are responsible for
many children dying from overt war, covert aid, poverty, hunger,
I am afraid the choice is that of maintaining an integrity between
our means and our ends, remaining marginal and being alterna-
tive or fighting fire with fire. We live with hierarchy, alienated labor,
we develop our own deceptive ideology but have a crack at the
mainstream and the chance to get power in the system as it exists.
In feminism this plays itself out as whether to develop a women's
culture and in many ways drop out from the system, something
women are encouraged to do anyway, or fighting for the right to
swim with the big boys, which doesn't address the problem at its
roots. Leftists have their own version of this which in the USA is to
maintain radicalism and yell at deaf ears or adopt liberalism and
Too often we are preaching to the converted.
1 ■ .■ 1 • » ■ *